You hit the nail on the head here. Even IF you received an invite, the SDK was utter crap. I spent 3 hours downloading all of the little pieces, getting the build chain put together, writing a small "hello world" app. At the end, I tried to build it and run it on the VM provided, and it failed, giving me some obscure error. I tried Googling and pushing the build around with all kinds of different parameters and manual packaging but no luck. Their forums were no help at all and the SDK interface itself was just absolute junk to use.
I sort of feel bad seeing a Canadian company like RIM fail, but at the same time they seemed to miss the boat entirely with how they treated the developers right out of the gate.