Monday, April 28, 2008

Is the iPhone Coming to Canada or Not? - UPDATE!


I think I'm asked this question more than I'm asked how I'm doing today, or what I'd like to eat for lunch. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I do find myself in the middle of a discussion about the iPhone, and "hey, when the heck are we going to see it in Canada?" at least once every few days. For the most part, it's others asking me and not the other way around. I really could care less (yes, I'm serious). But clearly I'm the exception to the rule in this case. So when is the holy-grail-of-phones, the iPhone, coming to Canada?

As of late, there has been another swarm of rumours that Rogers (the only GSM provider in Canada) and Apple are working out the terms of a deal. The Toronto Star even claims that it could be here between May and July. Of course, the paper doesn't cite its "industry sources", and is quick to note that there have been no official confirmation from either side. I can't seem to get one either. A Rogers spokesperson simply told me that there "is nothing new to report on the iPhone." As Chandler from Friends would say, "Can you BE any more vague?"

I recall similar rumours having been stirred up a few months ago, so it could just be someone, somewhere trying to rock the boat again and get the Canucks all excited. My instinct tells me that we won't see the iPhone here until after the Advanced Wireless Spectrum Auction at the end of May, which is when carriers bid for additional spectrum to enhance their services, and new entrants can bid to start their own service. Why do I say this?

1) With Rogers being the only main GSM carrier, there's no rush to bring the iPhone here since no one else can swoop in and carry the phone under Rogers' nose!

2) Data plan pricing in Canada is significantly higher than in the U.S. To my knowledge, Rogers does not offer any unlimited data plans. This means that data-intensive users will either have to pay through the nose to use the iPhone, or continually monitor and limit their on-the-go usage so as not to incur hefty additional fees.

3) Apple likes to play to the tune of its own song, and I get the feeling that Rogers is the same way. The Toronto Star report claims that Apple takes a portion of customer's bills as part of its agreement with carriers. If this is indeed true, Rogers is probably not too keen on that idea. And trying to agree on a deal will be tough with two strong-headed, powerful forces, neither of which wants to let up on its terms.

But then again, the AWS Auction could very well be a reason why we might see the iPhone in Canada before the end of the year. Here's why:

1) There will almost certainly be a new wireless carrier in Canada after this Auction, who will very likely be ready to set up shop by 2009. (Industry Canada has decided to set up a portion of the spectrum exclusively for a new carrier). Knowing this, Rogers might bite the bullet to smooth out a deal with Apple before competition heats up.

2) Canadian born and bred Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the popular BlackBerry device, reportedly has some cool devices on the horizon, and the longer we become used to the BlackBerry model, the more residents will hold it as the standard. People will only wait so long before they upgrade to a new phone! And once it's done, they won't too easily fork over another $400 for an iPhone.

3) People are quite obviously (and vocally) becoming frustrated that it's been almost a year since the iPhone debuted in the U.S., and yet we still haven't seen it north of the border.

4) "Grey" market iPhones that have been unlocked and cracked are widely being used across Canada on the Rogers network already. The longer it takes for the device to arrive her legitimately, the more it will become available illegitimately (although I'd argue that a huge percentage of those who have it illegitimately would have obtained it that way to begin with).

So what's the bottom line? Hurry up already so I can go back to using my regular, Sony Ericsson camera phone in peace.

UPDATE: One day later, and we have our answer. Rogers finally issued a statement confirming that it WILL be bringing the iPhone to Canada "later this year". Read all about it on our sister Website at http://www.marketnews.ca/.

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2 comments:

Grant McKenzie said...

Rumor has it that Apple will be releasing a second-generation iPhone in June that will use the 3G standard that is very popular across Europe. I don't believe 3G is prevalent in Canada yet, but Rogers has been expanding and promoting its move into 3G with a launch last October. Will this new phone be the one that Rogers was waiting for?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi grant,

Actually, 3G IS quite prevalent in Canada, so we're all geared up and ready should a 3G iPhone come to fruition in June!