BlackBerry is trying to convince iPhone owners to switch to its Passport smartphone by throwing in a financial incentive.
The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's . The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone.
The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card.
BlackBerry's global smartphone, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. BlackBerry has been struggling to win back customers, and the trade-in program is its latest attempt to do just that.
The Passport, launched in September, is the company's first flagship phone to surface since John Chen took over as CEO in November 2013. BlackBerry is targeting the phone toward "power professionals," meaning business users who prefer a traditional physical keyboard and focus mostly on email and text. Available unlocked in the US, the Passport is so named because it's about the size and shape of an actual passport.
Now BlackBerry is ready to cough up some cash to persuade iPhone users to give the Passport a shot. But will faithful iPhone owners bite? That may be a tough sell. BlackBerry has lost not just market share but confidence among consumers that it can survive and thrive as a mobile phone maker. And that's the real challenge facing the company.
Still, the Passport did get off to awith an initial 200,000 orders and sold-out stock both at BlackBerry's website and at Amazon.
The details of the trade-in program are available on a FAQ page.
On a related note, the Passport is sale for $499 through Black Friday, but that does not include the iPhone trade-in offer that starts Monday.