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RIM gifts new BlackBerry dev handset to select few

QWERTY kit limited to 1,500 developers

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Research in Motion has kicked off the next phase of its BlackBerry 10 Developer Program with a giveaway of a brand-new BlackBerry developer device.

Dubbed the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha C, the new testing device is the first to incorporate what RIM describes as "our industry-defining BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard."

Since launching its developer program in May, RIM has used a series of live events to seed its developer community with a pair of touchscreen-only devices it calls the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha A and B.

With the introduction of the Dev Alpha C, developers can now get a crack at both styles of BlackBerry 10 handsets – those with keyboards and without – that RIM says it will launch in the first quarter of 2013.

While RIM has been rather generous with its earlier Dev Alpha models – it says it has given away more than 7,500 of them to date – the struggling mobile maker says its latest testing device will only go to a select group.

Only those developers who can submit two or more BlackBerry apps for evaluation may apply to receive a Dev Alpha C, and out of those, only 1,500 will get the device. The selection won't be random, either; instead, RIM plans to choose its lucky few based on merit points.

Developers who have already received a Dev Alpha A or B get a 200-point head start, as do BlackBerry Elite Members. After that, points will be awarded based on the types of apps submitted.

Apps that have been awarded Built For BlackBerry certification earn the developer 1,500 points. All other applications earn 250 points, with the exception of apps ported from other platforms, which only earn 50. The more apps the developer has to submit, the more points.

The competition could be tough, because by this point anyone who's interested in developing for BlackBerry 10 but doesn't have apps to submit only has themselves to blame. RIM has been beating the drum for developers relentlessly since May, even going as far as to guarantee $10,000 in revenue for successful apps.

Just this week, Appcelerator chipped in to offer free devices and free cloud services to developers who build BlackBerry 10 apps using its cross-platform Titanium tools.

Given all those incentives, RIM is likely to have a well-stocked app catalog when BlackBerry 10 launches, despite lingering doubts about the platform's chances of success. 

Fortunately, developers who want to beef up their app portfolios to earn points for the giveaway still have time. The Dev Alpha C offer runs from December 1, 2012 through February 5, 2013 – so get coding. ®

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