Research In Motion will soon give software developers prototype devices that run an early version of the BlackBerry 10 platform.
RIM is hosting a BlackBerry 10 event in Orlando in May to coincide with its annual BlackBerry World user conference. There, a limited number of developers will have the chance to tinker with the product.
The Canada-based tech company said the prototype, labeled “BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha,” is not the finished smartphone intended for consumers.
“Although the device and the software that developers will see are not indicative of what BlackBerry 10 will be at launch, it’s a great chance to get building and see how their BlackBerry 10 apps will run in real life,” Victoria Berry, senior manager of PR and social media, developer and apps at RIM told TechNewsWorld.
The company has already encouraged developers to grab one of the 2,000 developer spots, Berry said.
A Fresh BlackBerry
The revamped BlackBerry line is expected to launch in late 2012.
“It’s a great way for us to once again show our commitment to the developer community and to recognize the importance of that community to a successful launch,” said Berry.
The smartphone maker is facing stiff competition from competing platforms like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. RIM is expected to release its latest quarterly earnings on Thursday, and that data will be indicate how it’s fared against those rivals over the past three months.
“A lot of people aren’t expecting them to have good earnings; they’re on a major downslide,” Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told TechNewsWorld.
RIM didn’t respond to our requests for comment in time for publication.
Need a Winner
Since RIM bought the QNX software it needed to develop the new BlackBerry platform, the company has been counting on the new BB10 line to win back some of the marketshare that competitors have grabbed. At the end of 2011, the company announced that the product launch was going to be delayed until the latter part of 2012, a setback that gave some lukewarm customers an even bigger reason to turn away from RIM.
“The delay has been a key part of competition being able to gain,” said Bajarin.
Giving prototypes to developers so far in advance of its consumer release, then, is a way to make sure that developers and customers remember that there’s a device on its way from the company.
“The bottom line is they need to make the market aware of this new product, even if it’s early,” said Bajarin. “Competitive pressures from not only Apple but what Google is doing with Android, and the recent moves with Microsoft by Nokia, all of those competitive issues are putting pressure on them to get their spec up, and early designs up in hopes they can still garner some attention,” said Bajarin.
Too Little, Too Late?
While the prototypes might generate some buzz for BlackBerry 10, especially among developers, Bajarin worries RIM has already lost crucial parts of some of its originally core markets, including the corporate market.
“There’s still a very loyal base of BlackBerry users who will be interested in the product,” he said. “But so many of the BlackBerrys out there are being replaced in corporate accounts with iPhones that the only way you can look at this is that it’s probably too late for them to really salvage the market in light of the competition.”