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T-Mobile offers $250 to upgrading BlackBerry users after manufacturer and fan outrage

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Carrier also offers $200 to upgrade from BlackBerry to another manufacturer's phone

Mike Sievert T-mobile (STOCK)
Mike Sievert T-mobile (STOCK)

BlackBerry users on T-Mobile who want to upgrade will now receive $250 towards any BlackBerry phone, or $200 toward any other manufacturer's phone in T-Mobile stores. The deal was introduced after a recent furore between BlackBerry and T-Mobile in which the carrier sent out an email to its BlackBerry-using customers that urged them to upgrade to an iPhone 5S for a discounted price. In response, BlackBerry CEO John Chen penned an "outraged" blog post in which he blasted the "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion," and lauded the significant number of BlackBerry fans who'd contacted T-Mobile CEO John Legere directly to complain about the email.

T-Mobile customers upgrading from BlackBerry phones will receive $250 toward a new BlackBerry

T-Mobile responded quickly to Chen's post. It first offered expedited shipping of the BlackBerry devices on its online store, but the offer — currently only applicable to a refurbished version of the manufacturer's Q10 phone and an older BlackBerry 7 model — felt limited. The new deal, outlined in a post by Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's chief marketing officer, is a greater benefit to BlackBerry loyalists keen to keep using BlackBerry products, and is something of a visible apology from the carrier to the company after a stronger-than-expected backlash.

Sievert opened his post by addressing that backlash. "Wow. Mind blown. The passion we've seen from the BlackBerry Loyal over the past couple days has been pretty amazing." But even as he detailed the BlackBerry trade-in scheme, Sievert stopped short of a direct apology to John Chen and BlackBerry. "The premise of [Chen's] article," Sievert said, "was that it's best for customers if we restrict the free flow of information and limit consumer choice. At T-Mobile we totally reject that premise." The deal itself offers $50 more for BlackBerry customers keen to stick with the manufacturer, but the $200 trade-in price to put toward other phones — the iPhone 5S that started the whole dispute, for example — is still incentive enough for people to switch away from BlackBerry.

T-Mobile boss John Legere joined his chief marketing officer in undermining any direct apology present in the scheme or the carrier's post, saying that his company focused on "choice and freedom," and that every BlackBerry customer could "now make a choice," with T-Mobile providing the incentive. Legere, in describing the new deal, dared the BlackBerry CEO to respond again, saying "Feel free to call me next time, Chen! ;)"