Now, normally our coverage of anything Rogers is best downed with a tall glass of Haterade, but Toronto’s technophiles and status-hungry business execs have reason to give thanks today to the Evil Empire, for the most anticipated gadget of the last gazillion years is to finally land in our fair city: Apple’s iPhone.
In a curt press release this morning, Rogers announced that a deal had been conclusively inked with Apple and the device will go on sale later in the year. “We can’t tell you any more about it right now, but stay tuned,” said President and CEO Ted Rogers. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has a notorious disdain for pre-release product leaks, and will likely announce details on pricing and availability at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in June. The WWDC will also see the debut of third-party games and applications for the iPhone, as well as a new 3G version of the iconic handset.
Whether or not one falls victim to Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field, the data-hungry iPhone’s debut should be good for consumers, considering Canada’s preposterous data plans. Bell and Telus started offering unlimited data options late last year in an attempt to stem iPhone-related customer defection, since Rogers’ GSM standard is the only technology currently compatible with the iPhone (however, Telus is allegedly considering an expensive switchover to GSM, while Ottawa has given spectrum approval for a new GSM carrier).
The addition of the iPhone to the Rogers network not only forces Rogers to upgrade their system to accommodate the iPhone’s non-linear Visual Voicemail feature, but to offer a substantially better unlimited data plan. Of course, unlimited data plan actually means unlimited* data plan, in the same way that Rogers can advertise a $20 “Mega Value Plan” that actually starts at $27.45, pre tax. The company considers itself a “premium” carrier that isn’t interested in offering true unlimited data (they audaciously claim that such plans are a “barrier to adoption” for new customers), and you could be tied into a contract for three years for the mere privilege of using an iPhone. We may not even see a true unlimited plan like the ones offered south of the border, since Rogers is currently the only game in town for the lustworthy iPhone, and boy, do they know it.
According to RBC Capital Market analysts, the iPhone could fetch 150,000 new subscribers to Rogers this year and about $100 million annually. Considering the blatant contempt by which they’ve treated everyday Canadian customers, we’re loath to give our mobile carriers any more hard-earned coin, yet it could very well be the iPhone that brings a little Stockholm Syndrome back to the domestic wireless market.
Photo illustration by Marc Lostracco.