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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blackberry offering iPhone users a big pay-out to switch to the Passport

By  Alex Viall

Blackberry Passport
The Blackberry Passport has a functional keyboard
Just as the Nokia 3210 once dominated the pockets of people all around the world, the iPhone is now sitting happy amidst some of the best-selling phones in the world. Back when Nokias were big though, the hardware and software was updated less frequently and it was easier for them to stay at the top of the game. Once smartphones made an appearance, and once Apple and HTC made their break through, Nokia struggled to retain its place as one of the world’s greatest mobile phone manufacturers.

Blackberry is having similar problems. While other companies have chosen to adapt their phones to be all but fully touch screen, Blackberry retains its miniature keyboard (yes, the one that makes your thumbs feel fat), and a pokey little screen. It seems Blackberry simply isn’t keeping up with the times, and its tactics betray its struggle.

Cold hard cash

If someone told you that, if you bought a holiday to Disneyland Paris, they would reimburse you for your devalued holiday to DisneyWorld Florida, I imagine you’d soon tell them where to go. But all the same, that seems to be what Blackberry is offering iPhone and Android users – if you buy their new Blackberry Passport, they will take your current smart phone and reimburse you, up to $550, depending on how well you’ve looked after it.

Blackberry sent out an open letter prior to this tactic asking Blackberry users to remain loyal, a letter that perhaps betrayed some desperation. John Chen, Blackberry’s CEO said ‘there’s something to be said for the old adage – if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.’ Sadly for John, it seems he wasn’t aware that just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

It is quite a bleak outlook really, for a phone that perhaps deserves a little more credit than its company is perhaps giving it. After all, these aren’t the tactics of someone that is fully confident in their product. That isn’t to say, however, that this isn’t a good deal.

Making the swap

The new Blackberry Passport isn’t a bad phone, and a cash offering for an old phone, although crude, isn’t such a bad deal. Effectively you can swap in your old phone, and get a significant reduction on the price of a brand new one. With a payback of $550, a new Blackberry Passport would only cost you $49 in the US.

With a wider screen (and potentially smaller keyboard than before), the Passport is, for lack of a better word, unique. And perhaps its marketing campaign is quite apt in that respect. It looks a little awkward and it doesn’t really look like something you want, but once you’ve done it, it might very well have been the right choice for you. With Android app capability, the Passport looks past the Blackberry’s comparatively bleak app shop and the BB hub is quite good at keeping you organised. Ultimately you just have to decide if this unusual deal and square smartphone are for you.

About the author: Alex Viall is the Director for London’s leading IT support companies for SME’s – Mustard IT.

Image: Maurizio Pesce, "Blackberry Passport", CC BY  2.0