Research In Motion Ltd. plans to give software developers an unreleased prototype BlackBerry device to help them create apps for the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Although not a BlackBerry 10 smartphone, the device will run an updated version of the operating system that currently runs on RIM's PlayBook tablet, which is based on the company's acquisition QNX Software Systems and forms the core of the next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform.
By giving the devices out to app developers at its upcoming BlackBerry 10 Jam in Orlando, Florida, in early May, the company is hoping to "create excitement" in the developer community, said Alex Kinsella, RIM's senior PR and social-media manager. The company hopes that the BlackBerry 10 software, which unifies the mobile operating system ecosystem for the company's smartphones and tablets, will help spur the development of more applications. RIM has lagged in app development when compared to such competitors as Apple Inc. and Google Inc.
The developer event is happening at the same time as the company's annual BlackBerry World conference.
With sales of its current BlackBerrys faltering, RIM has placed a major bet on consumer traction with BlackBerry 10 devices (the release of these important devices has been delayed until "late 2012"). The new handsets are extremely important for the company, and many industry watchers consider them absolutely crucial for the future of the Canadian technology giant. RIM, over the last year, has lost a lot of ground to Apple and devices running Google's Android software as the smartphone space continued to evolve rapidly.
"To be clear, this is not a BlackBerry 10 device," Mr. Kinsella says. "It includes a modified version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS (operating system) which shows the path to the BlackBerry 10 OS, which has been customized to a phone. This device will allow developers to test the applications they are building with our BlackBerry 10 toolsets."
RIM is due to report fourth-quarter results on March 29, 2012, with many analysts predicting more bad news.