RIM woos developers with BlackBerry prototype giveaway

RIM’s released a prototype version of its upcoming phone for the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and is distributing around 2,000 to developers.

Looking very different from current models, the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha lacks a keyboard – indeed, it lacks any buttons at all.

It has a 4.2-inch, 1280 x 768 high-resolution display – larger than the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S’s screen, and just the size that recent research from Strategy Analytics found was the most desirable for smartphone users.

It has Micro USB for debugging and charging, and a Micro HDMI port for displaying video on a television or monitor with a HDMI port. It has Bluetooth and WiFi radios and is cellular ready, says RIM.

It’s about as thick as the iPhone, but slightly longer and wider because of the larger display.

The company’s hoping the giveaway will help drum up some enthusiasm from developers, who have in the past been slow to develop apps for the BlackBerry.

“It’s important to get this prototype into the hands of our partners now so that you can help us deliver the type of high-quality content that will make BlackBerry 10 so special. With the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, you can test your apps on real hardware to work out interface, ergonomic and usability issues,” says Alex K, the company’s PR and social media manager, on the BlackBerry developers’ blog.

“This device is also a show of our commitment to helping developers build engaging apps for BlackBerry 10. Developers have told us they wanted hardware to test on before the platform launches and we are delivering.”

In another effort to woo developers, RIM’s also promising them $10,000 in guaranteed revenue if their apps are finished and approved by the time BlackBerry 10-based phones are released. That’s the the end of this year – but, cautions RIM, the final version may look very different from the prototype.