iPhone? Not I.

With all the fanfare attached to it, you’d think the arrival of the iPhone in Canada was the Second Coming.

True, it’s been a long wait. Our neighbours to the south have had access to that sleek, touch-screen goodness for almost a year.

And frankly, like most Apple products, it is a beautiful, stylish piece of technology. Just look at it.

As with most of the items masterminded by brilliant British-born industrial designer Jonathan Ive, so deservedly feted by the Design Museum in London for his body of work, the result is innovative, clean and instantly covetable.

But like many others living in Canada, I will resist the siren song of this particular piece of technology.

Why Resist?

It’s not because of Apple. Indeed the powers-that-be at Apple are very canny about promoting the brand and making their products must-haves.

As noted by the still-in-beta-site BrandDoozie, Apple’s brand is powerful and has an amazingly loyal following:

“From their iconic logo to iPod’s campaign of gyrating silhouettes against a kaleidoscope of color, Apple is more than a brand—it’s a culture.”

And the fact they’ve managed to do that generally by buzz rather than by expensive marketing campaigns.

[Tangent: For an alternative take on Apple’s brand that is quite intriguing, take a look at what Robert Scoble had to say last winter in a post entitled The Brand Promise of Apple.]

So, Why Resist Again?

Two words: Rogers Communications.

Rarely has a company with exclusive rights to a product managed to generate so much negative buzz for a hot commodity so quickly.

Because it is the only phone provider in Canada that uses the GSM network required by the device, Rogers is the only provider that can carry Apple’s 3G iPhone.

And unlike in the United States where unlimited data plans are offered, Rogers decided to lock iPhone purchasers into a three-year contract. And according to CTV.ca, the initial pricing was…less than ideal.

“The cheapest plan under that structure includes 400 megabytes of data, 150 minutes of weekday talk time and unlimited evenings and weekends for $60 per month plus fees and taxes.”

The Result?

A Major backlash. A website called ruinediphone.com sprang up and led to massive online petitioning, the organization of a protest rally and a campaign to get many Rogers customers to drop the corporation as a provider.

The protest has had an impact. As noted by the blog Load This with Steve Tilley, earlier this week Rogers decided to offer iPhone buyers the chance to choose their own standard voice plan and then add on a data plan allowing for 6 GB of mobile data a month for an addition $30.

But this has been a bit like throwing a bucket of water on a three-alarm fire. Gillian Shaw, of The Vancouver Sun, noted that this appeasement has not been entirely effective:

“The numbers of disgruntled consumers voicing their ire at www.ruinediphone.com continued to climb in the wake of Rogers’ announcement, aimed at cooling the controversy before today’s launch of the new phone.”

Who Was Smart About This?

Bell Canada. They looked at the negative publicity that Rogers was receiving and did something clever.

As of August 8th, they’re going to offer Samsung’s version of the iPhone, the Instinct (currently available in the US via Sprint), and they’re going to offer it with reasonable rates. Look at the comparison that the Globe and Mail offered on the two phones:

“The Samsung Instinct, which has many of the same features as the Apple iPhone, differs from the iPhone in one major way: Its monthly price plan, which will dramatically undercut the iPhone plan announced last week by Rogers Wireless.

A subscriber can…pay less than $40 a month for a modest voice plan accompanied by an unlimited Internet on Bell’s high-speed data network.”

Conclusion

So despite my love of Apple’s blend of solid technology and superior design, it looks like in this case, I’m going to have to wait and follow my Instinct instead of biting into Apple’s latest.

Part of it is the better pricing- that’s for sure. But a company clever enough to be responsive to another company’s disgruntled customers and to generate good PR by being more reasonable about rates?

They just seem smarter than the other guys. And a tad more reasonable.

What about you? Would you go along with Rogers’s terms to get the new iPhone? or would you be satisfied by a Samsung? What would/will you do?

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10 comments so far

  1. Michelle on

    Hi Abby,

    Congrats on resisting the urge. City News was covering the launch of the iPhone this morning beginning at 5:30 a.m. and I can’t say I was impressed. Even with the unfavourable rate plans, Rogers stores across the city had winding lineups outside down the sidewalk, some with customers camping over night. Quite ridiculous, if you ask me.

    It’s almost as if Rogers KNEW that Canadians would jump on board either way — great rate plans or poor ones. So they must have figured that they’d jack up the prices and make a profit off of all the desperate techies. A smart move, if you ask me.

    But I saw through they hype. All I saw was a phone that resembled too much of an iPod. And frankly, an iPod isn’t all that compact … especially for girls; girls with tight pants and tiny pockets. So for me, the iPhone is about as impractical as carrying around a Discman in my jeans. But males have baggy jeans and pockets big enough to safely hold the new device. Maybe that explains why the majority of campers staking out the Rogers stores were men and not you or I. And it must have been man’s desire to have a techie new tool in their pants that outweighed resistance to the pricey rate plans … but that’s just my opinion.

  2. abbymartin on

    Michelle

    Thanks for the comment! Always happy to have your keen observations here. 🙂

    It’s amazing that people would camp out for A PHONE.
    Apparently though the lines were exponentially worse in Tokyo than they were here. (Maybe the pricing was more reasonable. Or the hype was better.)

    Hadn’t thought about gender and the iPhone but that is an excellent point. Actually, most of the folks I know who have them are men. Perhaps for just the reason you state. (I’d kind of like to do an informal poll now.)

    I’m curious to see how the Instinct does vs. the iPhone. I’m also curious to see how Rogers’s actual service with the device is. Some of the reports out of the States have said that there have been so many people trying to start up their new 3G iPhones that it’s been a problem keeping up in terms of activation. And the new owners suddenly find they have an iBrick instead of a phone.

  3. Esme Callendar on

    Belgium is even worse. There, because of strange laws, you’ll pay nearly $1,000 for an iPhone, which makes it perfect there for the sort of person who uses brands like smoke signals. But Rogers has much to answer for on many fronts, and it would be nice if the iPhone brought a spotlight onto a number of Rogers practices.

  4. abbymartin on

    Thank you for the comment!

    Wow. That’s pretty steep.

    I’m surprised Apple allowed that, especially as there have been quiet speculations here that one reason Rogers lowered prices is Apple “had a word” with them. (apparently they should have had MORE words with them or a sterner one.) Mind you, there’s no official confirmation/verification of that.

    Agreed 100% on Rogers!

    AM

  5. Brett Favre on

    I got a new phone … it’s nice and shiny!

  6. abbymartin on

    “Mr. Favre.”

    You should have plenty of time to use that phone now seeing as you have retired and the Packers do not seem interested in starting you this fall.

    Thanks for checking in. 🙂

    AM

  7. Micah on

    @abbymartin Really nice synopsis of iPhone-Canada-Rogers-PowerToThePeoplePushback craziness of the past week.

    Much enjoyed.

  8. abbymartin on

    Hi!

    Thank you so much for the comment. Much appreciated.

    Glad you enjoyed the blog- please come back soon.

  9. thatsroger on

    A friend of mine (male) just bought an iPhone a week ago and he was able to get it through Rogers without purchasing a data plan, I have no idea how… So far he’s enjoying it and allowed me to hold it for about 30 seconds. We’ll see if he starts to encounter problems like those in the US experiencing dropped calls.

  10. abbymartin on

    Hi!

    That’s fascinating- I’d love to know how he managed that. Hope he enjoys it!

    AM


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