Although for some folks, this might seem obvious, it's been a debated topic since the release of the BlackBerry 10 Dev Apha devices due to the fact they have the capability to work without a BlackBerry data plan attached to them. In the post to developers today explaining the differences between the BlackBerry Dev Alpha A and the BlackBerry Dev Alpha B, RIM confirmed BlackBerry 10
devices smartphones will need a BlackBerry data plan attached to them.
Should you decide to get a microSIM for your Dev Alpha, you do not need to have “BlackBerry Data” turned on for the account. Connectivity will be work with regular Internet access alone. There may be some carriers where data connectivity doesn’t work, but Wi-Fi will work for you in that case. Please note that this is the case just for the Dev Alpha device and not BlackBerry 10 launch devices, which will need to have BlackBerry data on the wireless plan.
This is important because the data plans are a revenue stream for BlackBerry. On the last CrackBerry podcast we discussed how RIM will or will not continue to earn service revenue and now we know at least in the consumer market, BlackBerry data plans are not going to be going away with the launch of BlackBerry 10.
Whether or not those plans will differ from what we know now remains to be seen. RIM and carriers have been rolling out new options in terms of pricing and offerings as of late, so it's not unreasonable to see that trend continue with BlackBerry 10. Also worth noting, this doesn't apply to the WiFi PlayBook, since people asked. Thanks, mcmolineux!