Do you want to have the latest and greatest devices on the market? For free? No problem if you are a software developer! Over the years I've got several devices for free and I will tell you how I did it.
Find a hardware vendor that has launched new products, is behind competitors in terms of software eco-system and present them with a great application which you will code on their device.
This week I've been at the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam in Sofia and I got a BlackBerry Z10 Dev Alpha B smart-phone.
BlackBerry 10 OS is different from previous versions. It has a QNX kernel and is largely incompatible with previous software. This means all apps need to be rewritten.
Another thing to note is that BlackBerry is behind Android, iPhone and probably Windows Phone in terms of applications. It is in their interest to lower the barrier to entry for developers and boost their software eco-system. Which in turn makes customers happy because they can find all sorts of applications. It's that simple.
Being a Linux guy my idea is to trade my Lenovo X220 for a smart-phone. The only thing(s) I need is all the command line tools which I use: bash, vim, coreutils and most notably Python. So I've decided to try and port all of these to the BlackBerry 10 OS. It should be doable because QNX is POSIX compliant and the OS itself comes with C/C++ and Qt/QML native development stack.
I have a few other ideas which are still taking shape in my head and are mostly towards mobile development.
I've heard BlackBerry Developer Group Balkan may have some devices to give away to developers so I simply asked. They liked my ideas and agreed to give me a developer device.
In addition they've given away the real product (not dev alpha devices) for free at Twitter contests held during couple of events so far. Several guys I know were lucky enough to win the prizes.
The OLPC XO laptop
It is cool and innovative device with its software especially adapted to child education. The general public wanted to have a standard Linux distro running on the same hardware. Fedora being the original foundation on which the XO Linux distro was built was a good choice (among others).
I have received for free the XO laptop shown here and mainly tested networking related stuff. After the test initiative was completed (and also the upstream OLPC project ceased to exist closely after that) I got to keep the device for myself.
Which device to get ?
I'll keep my eyes open for a Firefox OS or Ubuntu Phone devices. As they come into stores they will have to compete with already established vendors.
Let me and everyone else know if you got a device for free being a developer! Share your story and tips into the comments below.