Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Roger Debunks iPhone Myths

I have been communicating extensively with Elizabeth Hamilton, spokesperson for Rogers Wireless regarding all the controvery surrounding the upcoming release of the Apple iPhone 3G in Canada.

For those who have been sleeping under a rock for the past few weeks, here's the gist of the issues: consumers are protesting the high data plans that Rogers is imposing on the device, mainly because there is no option that would include unlimited data: the most extensive plan includes 2 GB of data for $115/mo. (a limited time option will supply 6 GB for $30; see below for more information). The other terms that has consumers livid is the fact that the iPhone will only be purchaseable with a three-year contract.

The most recent myth that Hamilton was quick to debunk is that Apple will be scaling back shipments of iPhones to Canada, diverting them to other countries because of all the negative consumer attention that the carrier has been getting. While she prefaced her stance with the typical "Rogers does not comment on rumour and speculation", she did confirm that inventory remains "unchanged throughout our announcements." Despite this, the iPhone will not be sold through Apple stores in Canada; but rather just through authorized Rogers and Fido dealers. This makes sense, given that the customer has no choice but to sign a contract to get it: how would he have done so at the Apple store anyway?

While Hamilton refused to comment on competitors Bell and Telus, both of which have recently announced unlimited data plans for competing touch-screen phone models (the Samsung Instinct and HTC Touch Diamond, respectively), she was quick to point out that Rogers isn't the only country foregoing the unlimited option: carriers in the U.K., U.S., Germany, and Sweden are the only four of the 12 countries to launch unlimited plans for the 3G device. "Unlimited plans are clearly not offered by the majority," she adds.

Further to this, Hamilton advises that Rogers has been conducting its own internal testing on mobile Websites and other data applications to determine what a customer can actually get on an iPhone in the way of data consumption with the existing plans. Her samples indicate that, with 2 GB, customers would be able to get 51,2000 text-based e-mails, 11,703 Web pages, 6,827 photos, or 2,048 minutes on While certainly extensive, it seems that, at this point, in the consumer's mind, the issue has gone way beyond the amount of data consumption used, and well into the way of becoming a matter of principle. The four biggest countries are getting unlimited, as are customers on CDMA networks in Canada, so why can't we?

Meanwhile, it seems like all the negative consumer attention has convinced Rogers to add at least something to appease us: aside from opening select store locations early at 8 a.m. on Friday for advance purchase of the device, Rogers has also launched a new, limited-time plan. While it still doesn't include unlimited data, it does up data limits to 6 GB for $30, which can be added to any voice plan. This offer will only apply to customers who sign on (for three years, of course) prior to August 31, 2008.

Rogers is clearly also expecting the device to sell out, despite an online petition that is asking customers to boycott the device. The site, calle RuinediPhone, currently has over 56,000 virtual signatures. As of this morning, a note at the very top indicates that MP David McGuinty will be making a video statement on the issues posed by the site today at 3 p.m. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous said...

Rogers caved

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Indeed the company has, as also noted in the above article.

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

It is David Mcguinty, not Dalton....

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

haha, thanks for noticing the error. Freudian slip, I guess!

Anonymous said...

The comments from Roger's spin doctor hide the fact that most users simply browse the web and that in itself uses up data. Are those megabytes counted as well?

With Apple and many others banking on a much larger demand for cellular data in the near future, are they blind in seeing that even 6 gigs will probably be far too litle 18 months down the road?

I think they do see that which make Rogers just another low-life monopoly.

So I'll keep my iPod Touch, upgrade it and hold on to my Virgin Mobile account until they drop the stench of greed in their contracts.

Anonymous said...

Here's what consumers really want to hear from Rogers, and if I were making PR decisions, this is what I would advise, rather than handing out the Teflon "we don't comment and we're no worse than the other guy routine."

"Clearly, we miscalculated the nature of demand for this outstanding product, and we apologize to our loyal customers and future subscribers thinking about buying an iPhone from us. We understand now how critical mobile data marketing and unlimited access to the web is for iPhone users and, accordingly, we are revising our offer to meet and exceed evolving usage standards.

"Effective immediately, we will offer an unlimited data plan for $30 per month on a mini,um 24 month contract.

"We want to thank subscribers in advance for making Rogers the leading cellular service provider in Canada."

That would maybe turn things around.

Anonymous said...

The Rogers spokesperson said unlimited data is not being offered by the majority of telecom corporations in the different countries. Perhaps not.

However, I did the math and 77% of the nearly 600 million people who will be able to buy the iPhone 3G, will have access to unlimited data plans in their countries!