Opinion : Why iPhone might not do well in Canada

Even before the iPhone hit the marketplace, even before Steve Jobs confirmed its existence, the Internet was abuzz with the possibility of toying around with an Apple-branded cell phone. The fateful day came on June 29th of this year, treating Americans across the nation to a device that would marry their cell phone with their iPod. It's a portable Internet device, a multimedia player, and a slick little puppy that has every fashionista clamoring for new cases and mods.

Even though the iPhone has now been unlocked — by a 17-year-old, no less — it is terribly unlikely that the Apple iPhone will ever officially make its way across the 49th parallel to Canada. Sure, a Canuck can hop across the border to an Apple Store to buy an iPhone directly, unlock it using the methods described by George Hotz, and use it with Fido or Rogers Wireless. Yes, it is possible, but very few people will want to do that.

The single biggest hurdle for Canadians is the price of wireless data. Even though AT&T subscribers to the south are stuck with EDGE for their iPhones (when they're outside of a WiFi hotspot, anyways), at least they have plans that offer unlimited data. To use the iPhone is to use wireless data and without that, it's just an overpriced piece of jewelry that can play music.

Look at the price of data at Rogers Wireless. If you sign up for a BlackBerry plan, you can get a single megabyte for $25. Even if you up the ante to $40, you're still restricted to just 7MB. In order to get 200MB, it'll cost you $100 a month. And that's in addition to any voice minutes, voicemail, caller ID, and other options that you may consider. That's far too expensive, especially if you intend on using mobile YouTube.

Compare that to the recently leaked information concerning the Germany-bound iPhone. We hear that it's going to go beyond EDGE to offer users high-speed UMTS/HSDPA data as speedy as 3.6Mbps. We hear that it's going to go beyond a mere eight gigs of internal memory to bring a full 16GB. All this for 499 Euros. And their plans WILL come with unlimited data along with a bevy of minutes for as little as 49 Euros a month. Just not possible in Canada.

In order for the Apple iPhone to make it to Canada, one of two things must happen:

1. Rogers Wireless — which owns Fido, the only other major GSM provider in Canada — will have to lower their data price plans substantially, offering unlimited data for a reasonable rate.


2. Canada will need to open up to more GSM providers. That, or a CDMA iPhone will have to be developed that can work with Bell Mobility or Telus Mobility. This will hopefully open up the competition for data rates, paving the way to a Canadian iPhone.

But I'm not going to hold me breath over this. Which is too bad, because Apple could make some serious coin selling the iPhone north of the 49th parallel.