Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rogers may get Phoned

I was watching TWITLive, which features streaming audio from various TWIT programs. This being Sunday it was time for TWIT and there was messages asking Leo to talk about the Apple Roger fallout. There are now rumours all over the blogsphere regarding Apple's feelings about Rogers.

If you remember, the Globe and Mail featured an article which asked the question, why doesn't Apple love Canada. I think we now know the answer, because they have to work with nobs like Rogers. Ted Rogers has a history of jobbing the subscribers of his cable company and his wireless and now he thought he could do the same with the iPhone. The rest of the world offer unlimited data? Not in Canada. The rest of the world has short contracts? Rogers makes you take three years. Although to be fair, that's standard fare. The rest of the world offer the iPhone for $199.00, well actually Rogers has no control over that.

Now, word is circulating that Apple is not happy. And if Steve is not happy, well, heaven help the person or company that has made him unhappy.

So what are the rumours? For this I went to the excellent blog Smithereens that intends to let Rogers know how dissatisfied it is with its partnership. This site has a link to the online petition It is here Canadians can sign and complain to Rogers about the pricing plan. Smithereens reports over 36,000 Canadians have signed which is apparently more people then there are iPhone available for Canada. You can read the blog here.

Here is the good stuff:

Here are the tidbits I have managed to glean from my source within Rogers (And I'll let you draw your own conclusions):

First, an employee of Apple Canada sends a text message to my source that says something to the effect of: "You guys are screwed for iPhone," but will not respond to multiple replies asking for clarification.
Next, an employee at competing handset manufacturer RIM (Blackberry's parent) sends my source a text soon after saying there are rumours of an Apple-Rogers fallout.
Then, my source receives a call notifying him that all the part-time staff who had been hired for next week's launch have been fired without notice. (UPDATE 07/06: Apparently, only certain dealerships took on additional staff for the launch, although most urban locations did. Also, some dealerships may not have let all their iPhone help go, but others definitely have. It's important to clarify that any decisions to let staff go were made at the individual dealer level, and not by Rogers least not directly.)
And finally, a senior Rogers rep confirms that Apple has decided to divert a large percentage of their planned Canadian shipment to Europe and that each Rogers store may now be getting as few as 10-20 units, ostensibly due to Apple's displeasure over Rogers' high data and voice rates. (UPDATE 07/06: Although no per-store numbers can be confirmed, the verbiage used by head office is apparently that numbers will be "significantly reduced" and that stores should "exercise caution" not to over-promise. Europe has also been reconfirmed as the destination for the allegedly diverted units.)

Couple this with what I found out at the Rogers' store means, we can expect lower rates come the 12th of July. Or do we? This is going to be the question of the week. Let's remember Rogers has been nailing the consumer for so long that they probably feel it's their God-given right. As well, they may know something of the Canadian psyche, which is to complain and belly-ache but ultimately do nothing. I suspect that's what they are hoping. However if the Apple side of the rumour is true then this adds something to the equation. For once Rogers is beholden to another and there are some points.

I already mentioned the Blackberry Bold, it's coming and can be thought of as a iPhone killer. Second is other services with 3G capability are coming soon as well, soon Rogers will not be the only game in town.

Now just to give a fair and balanced report, eCanadaNow is reporting that Rogers is unfazed about all the flack. Again, this is the typical thinking process of a major Canadian corporation. However what is untypical is Rogers is dealing with Steve Jobs who indirectly controls hundreds of thousands of worshippers called Appleslappies. If he declares his displeasure then Rogers is done for. We all know Hell hath no fury like a MacSlappy scorned.

What should be done? Don't buy the iPhone on the 11th, or 12th, or that week for that matter. Let Rogers know we Canadians are serious. Contact other companies about the Blackberry. Call Rogers customer service and tell them why you are not buying the iPhone.

Speaking of other carriers, I was listening to net@nite with Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur. Amber reported she was able to get a better deal from Bell by simply saying to them she was considering getting an iPhone and ditching her Blackberry. Just put that in the back of your mind.

Me? I'm sticking with my Virgin Mobile.

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