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RIM pushes BlackBerry 10 kit out to thousands of devs on 1 May

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Attendees travelling to Orlando for BlackBerry World will get their hands on alpha-release hardware as RIM seeks to seed the developer community ahead of a commercial launch.

The hardware won't be the finished article, but RIM reckons it's close enough for devs to start making applications. The Canadian firm will be handing out several thousand devices to developers attending BlackBerry World in a move described as "unprecedented".

We suggested this was, in fact, remarkably similar to Microsoft's release of Windows 8 Tablet hardware to 5,000 developers in September last year, but were told that the move was "unprecedented in mobile". We'll leave aside the argument as to whether Windows 8 tables qualify as "mobile", and give RIM credit for trying to connect with developers as actively as possible.

It needs to do that, considering how many of them are going to have to rewrite their applications which were developed for existing, Java-based BlackBerry handsets. The QNX-based BlackBerry 10 will need applications written in C++, using Qt – or WebWorks for the AJAX crowd – while those still sitting on the fence can use the Android runtime or even resort to a bit of Adobe AIR to get their apps working.

RIM handed out 5,000 PlayBook tablets at the last year's DevCon, which has so far comprehensively failed to drive development of applications for the loved-but-lost tablet. Early access to BlackBerry 10 handsets can only help, but whether it will help enough is open to question. ®

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