RIM woos developers with free phones

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Beleaguered BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIMM) gave away thousands of free phones to software developers today as it kicked off its annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla.

The Canadian company realizes that the lack of a software ecosystem is crippling its once-dominant line of smartphones, and it hopes to reverse that trend with the BlackBerry 10. So it gave away prototypes to developers today, emphasizing that they were not the final product but a good representation.

The BlackBerry 10 does not have the company’s signature QWERTY keyboard, but instead uses a touchscreen.

Following the keynote address by RIM’s new CEO, Thorstein Heins, analyst Nick Dillon of Ovum commented that the company’s commitment to app development went beyond free phones. “Along with HTML5, (the) focus on application development platforms and cross platform tools shows RIM is taking a pragmatic approach to attracting developers to BB10,” said Dillon.

RIM has steadily been losing market share to Apple and Samsung. Today IDC reported that RIM’s first quarter global smartphone market share was 9.7%, its lowest level since 2009. (Samsung dominated with a 29% market share, beating Apple by almost 5 percentage points.)

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Martha DeGrasse

Editor, Wireless Infrastructure
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Martha DeGrasse is an editor at RCR Wireless News, and is the creator of the RCR Mobile Minute. Martha has been with RCR Wireless News since 2011. Her current focus areas are wireless infrastructure and heterogeneous networks. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York. Martha left Dow Jones to move to Austin, Texas, where she managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Follow her at Twitter @mdegrasseRCR