Research In Motion (RIM) today announced the BlackBerry 10 Technical Preview program, an initiative designed to allow certain enterprise and government customers the opportunity to begin beta testing with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, as well as pre-production BlackBerry 10 smartphones.
The program, which is by invitation only, starts today, with more than 120 select customers enrolled that span a variety of industries, including financial, government, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, media, and distribution. RIM said the mix includes 64 Fortune 500 companies.
The move comes as RIM struggles to retain even its core enterprise customers, as more and more companies allow their employees to bring iOS and Android devices onto their networks.
In late October, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that BlackBerry was no longer able meet the mobile technology needs of the agency and as a result ICE would be dumping $2.11 million into providing 17,676 employees with iOS devices.
ICE had used BlackBerry smartphones for the past eight years, leveraging the platform’s apps, email and calendar functions.
“Apple iOS services offer the salient characteristics and critical functions essential to meeting the agency’s requirements and market research indicates that no other company’s products can meet the agency’s needs,” ICE said, in a statement.
In a boon for RIM, ICE said it would take RIM up on its offer and enroll in the BlackBerry 10 preview. The announcement was enough to temporarily boost RIM’s stock.
Shares of RIM were down more than 1 percent to $13.88 in early morning trading Monday.