BlackBerry will pay you $$$s to be its friend and dump that iPhone

Hugs not included

Sales-challenged BlackBerry is hoping to bribe iPhone users away from Apple with a cash offer starting next month.

The Canadian mobe maker says it will pay up to $550 to fanbois who swap their iPhones for BlackBerry Passports instead.

The offer will run from December 1 to February 13 in the US and Canada, and cover the iPhone 4S to 6: owners of 4Ses can expect up to $90 each to defect, whereas the big 6 commands up to $400 – depending on the condition of the gadget.

Blackberry will also pay out an extra $150 "top-up" per handset. The money will be sent to customers only after they purchase a Passport and hand in their iPhone.

The cash will essentially offset much of the cost of a new unlocked Passport, which retails at $599 from BlackBerry's own store or on Amazon.

BlackBerry has a lot of work to do if it wants to actually eat into Apple's smartphone stranglehold. According to BlackBerry's last quarterly report [PDF], the BB OS 10 maker shipped 2.4 million handsets from June through August. Apple, by comparison, shipped 39.2 million iPhones over the same period [PDF].

BlackBerry launched the Passport in October after nearly a year's absence from the smartphone space. The handset sports a distinctive square screen and a physical keyboard that the company hopes will appeal to long-time BlackBerry fans.

A Reg review of the Passport returned a lukewarm assessment of the device and its suite of business and productivity tools.

The public, meanwhile, has all but dismissed the company formerly known as RIM. Analyst reports show that BlackBerry accounts for less than one per cent of worldwide shipments. ®

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