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BlackBerry chief executive officer John Chen uses a Passport smartphone following the official launch event in Toronto, Sept. 24, 2014.

AARON HARRIS/REUTERS

BlackBerry Ltd. is offering to pay iPhone users as much as $550 to switch to a square-screened BlackBerry Passport.

Starting in December, customers who trade in an iPhone for the keyboard-equipped Passport will get as much as $400 back depending on their Apple Inc. smartphone's model and condition, plus a $150 prepaid gift card, BlackBerry said yesterday in a statement. The promotion is only available in North America and lasts until Feb. 13.

After losing most of its smartphone market share to iPhones and devices running Google Inc.'s Android software, BlackBerry is focusing on selling to business and government users. It brought back the physical keyboard and is touting the ease of working on the Passport's wide screen.

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The deal is part of a blast of holiday promotions BlackBerry announced yesterday, including a Black Friday sale, a new financing program and red and white Passport phones. Chief Executive Officer John Chen has said he hopes to return the company to the consumer market one day.

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