Rogers iPhone rates draw Canadian users’ ire

Rogers has announced iPhone pricing packages, resulting in an outcry from Canadian consumers.

Available from Rogers and Fido on July 11, iPhone voice and data packages will range from $60 to $115 monthly with a mandatory three-year contract.

The entry-level $60 package includes 150 daytime minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends, 75 outgoing text messages and 400MB of data. Unlimited visual voice mail is included and when situated in a Rogers or Fido hotspot, users will receive unlimited Wi-Fi access. Extras, such as caller ID and call forwarding, will involve adding one of two monthly “value packs” for an additional $15 or $20. Neither value pack includes voice mail, which requires an additional monthly fee.

The release equates 400MB to roughly 200,000 text emails, 3,100 Web pages or 1,360 photo attachments. But for users intending to access resource-heavy sites like Facebook and YouTube, the numbers aren’t so clear.

“Regarding the $60 plan, I’m a Web developer, I have been contracted numerous times to write Facebook applications. iPhone’s Safari browser is a full-featured browser capable of viewing rich Facebook pages, which no doubt, millions of users will do. These pages can easily amount to 1MB or more PER VIEW,” writes someone named Jason on the RuinediPhone blog, which urges potential consumers to delay their purchasing plans.

“Screwing Canadian iPhone customers since ’08” is the tagline for, an online petition for Canadians upset with Rogers’ high rates. The goal is to secure 25,000 petitions by July 11. With 10 days remaining before the deadline, 23,007 petitioners have already signed up. RuinediPhone also hosts an open letter to Steve Jobs, urging him to take action. According to creator James Hallen, the site had 100,000 unique visitors in the first 48 hours.

“These are very high prices,” says Michelle Warren, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “One of the things that was expected or hoped for is that the pricing for data would come down a little bit, which would encourage people, consumers and corporations, to switch towards more of a data-centric device. I don’t see that with this pricing, so overall, it’s discouraging for people who want to buy an iPhone.”

Despite the boycotting efforts, profits are likely for Rogers. “In many ways, you have to say Rogers is playing its cards right,” says independent telecomm analyst Jon Arnold. “They’ve had enough time to watch the trends of adoption for this product and how it’s being used in the U.S.” “There’s no immediate threat of someone else coming out with a lower priced plan,” Arnold continues, “so they can come to market with a high price knowing that they’re going to get those ‘can’t wait’ subscribers out there no matter what the price is because there’s just so much demand for it.”

While it’s doubtful enterprises will adopt the iPhone in its early release, due to factors beyond voice and data package price, sales from the small business market can be expected. “I think we’ll see some movement there,” says Warren. “There are a lot of firms that are Mac users that will just naturally gravitate towards it.”

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