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RIM giving out BlackBerry 10 handsets in May

RIM will hand out prototype handsets running BlackBerry 10 in May, hinting it's not far off launching the new platform.

RIM isn't far off launching BlackBerry 10, as it'll be handing out prototype models to developers in May, Bloomberg reports.

RIM's annual developer conference will be where those lucky technical types get their hands on prototypes running the new platform. About 2,000 of the handsets will be handed out, so developers can get busy making apps using the underlying operating system. RIM is hoping BlackBerry 10 will turn around its fortunes.

"It's a huge step forward on our path to eventually launching BB10," Alec Saunders, vice-president developer relations at RIM told Bloomberg. "It's tangible evidence of the company making progress to finally shipping the device."

So while we can expect some BlackBerry 10 devices to pop up on the Internet around May, don't expect them to be anywhere near the finished article. "The experience on this device from a consumer's perspective is not in any way indicative of what the final experience on BlackBerry 10 will be like," Saunders said. "We are holding that back to create interest around that at launch time."

The first BlackBerry 10 handsets are expected to go on sale near the end of this year.

BlackBerry 10 started life as BBX, but had to change its name as it was already used by a software company called Basis International. The BlackBerry London is the most leaked handset to use BlackBerry 10, and if the leaks are genuine, it looks like it'll have no physical buttons, an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Pretty nifty.

It's been a tough year for RIM, after the BBM outage that enraged customers. And now it looks like it's losing out to the iPhone even on its home turf. So what can it do to win back the business community? We can think of a few things…

Are you looking forward to BlackBerry 10? What does RIM need to do to get back on track? Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.