updated 03:25 pm EDT, Wed April 4, 2007
iPhone May Not Hit Canada
Suggestions that the iPhone will release on Rogers Wireless in Canada are only speculative, the cell provider said today. Contradicting an earlier e-mail the company reportedly sent early this year, Rogers corporate communications head Odette Coleman told journalists that no announcements had been made, and that most of what had been heard was conjecture.
"Everything in the media has been speculations to this point," Colemain said. "The only fact is that we are the only GSM carrier in Canada. That's the only fact."
Apple Canada has so far been unavailable for comment.
Unlike Europe or the US, where Apple had the choice of siding with multiple GSM cellphone providers such as T-Mobile or its eventual choice AT&T, Canada's industry is mostly composed of incompatible CDMA networks from Bell Canada and Telus. Rogers and its sub-brand Fido would represent Apple's only choice should it decide to sell the iPhone in the country.
Even so, Frost & Sullivan research analyst Ronald Gruia has warned that Rogers may not have the incentive to carry the device and may have its own reasons to delay the launch. The provider already has existing contracts to sell large volumes of music phones from Motorola and Sony-Ericsson that would likely be hurt by the introduction of the iPhone as another choice.
The Canadian firm may also choose to wait until it feels the time is right, Gruia said. Rogers just this week introduced its VISION 3G wireless network for video messaging and may decide to postpone launching Apple's handset on its services until the device can support the faster HSDPA mobile Internet access standard, which is set to eventually replace the legacy "2.5G" EDGE standard which dominates Rogers today and is currently the only choice for cellular Internet using the iPhone. Such a phone may not be ready until as many as two years from now, the analyst said.
Rogers may also wait to see if the cellphone's popularity in the US offsets its $499 minimum price. "Rogers may wait to see how well it does in the U.S.," Gruia noted. "If this thing really takes off and has tremendous uptake in the U.S., maybe we'll see it here in time for Christmas."
Despite these potential delays, he adds, the carrier has most likely tested the iPhone in Canada and may see the phone available unofficially for those who sign up for US accounts or successfully unlock the handset to use it natively on Rogers' network.
"You definitely will see the iPhone in Canada, but not necessarily being supported by Rogers -- that's definite," Gruia said.