New BlackBerry 10 developer smartphones set for May debut

Summary:Research in Motion is set to debut BlackBerry 10 running smartphones at its upcoming May conference, in a move the company hopes could bring back the brand from the brink.

Research in Motion, the BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook tablet maker, is reportedly set to deliver a new smartphone for developers in time for its BlackBerry Jam developer conference in early May.

The conference in Orlando, Florida brings BlackBerry developers around the world together for three days, but interest has been tepid since Research in Motion's troubles began to spiral in 2011 and continued through this year.

Bloomberg cited Alex Saunders, RIM's vice-president for developer relations, in a telephone interview as saying the company will issue as many as 2,000 devices to developers, running the next-generation QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system.

He said the design of the test model, the screen's look, and navigation will not be "in any way indicative" of the end version, in a bid to drum up consumer support and generate interest.

Currently used in the BlackBerry PlayBook, the QNX-based operating system will be ported to BlackBerry smartphones in time for the holiday season, after a series of delays held back the schedule. But there are only 10,000 apps for the PlayBook, which may seem like a lot, but is disappointing in terms of rival application stores.

It is hoped the issuing of new BlackBerry 10 phones to developers could spur on growth to the BlackBerry App World, and inject a smidgen of life into the dying brand.

The company needs to find something to reinvigorate its sales, profits and share price, and it is hoped that new devices and a new operating system could bring back the BlackBerry brand from near-death.

BlackBerry 10 started out as "BBX", but was forced by a lawsuit in 2011 --- only days before its announcement --- to change its name to "BlackBerry 10" as the trademark was already in use. Users disrupted by the global data outage, which left BlackBerry customers with nothing more than an expensive brick for four days, pushed even more customers towards the iPhone.

Research in Motion is faring so badly that it has just been overtaken by the iPhone on its home turf in Canada, as even the most patriotic and loyal customers are turning away.

The NASDAQ-listed company is trading at $13.66 a share, down from $56 a share a year ago.

Image source: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia. Article source: Bloomberg.

Related:

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones, Tablets

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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