Research in Motion has given 150 smartphones running on a test version of its new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system to apps developers in the Middle East in an effort to spur software development in the region.
The Canadian group this week gave a preview of its new operating system, which is seen as a make-or-break product for the troubled company. Research in Motion (RIM) is keen to encourage the creation Arabic applications.
"Globally, we have seeded over 5,000 developers with the BlackBerry Alpha device, including more than 150 Middle East developers," said Mike Al Mefleh, the director of RIM's carrier product management and platform services in the Middle East. "The strategy behind this is to provide our developer community with the option to create ... regionally relevant apps."
A touchscreen smartphone running on the BB10 system is due to be launched in the first quarter on next year.
Mr Al Mefleh said the Middle East was a "priority" marketin the rollout of new smartphones running the software. "The Middle East will be part of the wave-one rollout. It's not going to be after North America or Europe," he said.
RIM has pinned its hopes on smartphones running the new operating system, amid fears the company may be in terminal decline because of fierce competition from rivals Apple and Samsung.
The preview of the new operating system was given by RIM's chief executive Thorsten Heins on Tuesday in California.
Mr Heins told Reuters BlackBerry's subscriber base had risen to 80 million in the quarter ending on September 1 from the 78 million it reported earlier this year, in a sign RIM's fortunes may be improving slowly.
Shareholders had previously reacted angrily to delays in the BB10 launch, as well as the rapid growth of rival handset makers.