In an effort to win the lion's share of Canadians waiting anxiously for the new iPhone 4, which comes out on Friday, Rogers Communications Inc. is offering big discounts to its existing iPhone customers.
Unlike when the first iPhone came to Canada, Rogers does not have an exclusivity agreement for the newest version of the wildly popular smart phone: Both BCE Inc. 's Bell Mobility and Telus Corp. will offer service for the iPhone 4, and currently offer the existing iPhone.
In the United States, AT&T Inc. is the only provider that Apple currently allows to offer service for the device.
If a Rogers customer bought an iPhone on contract before June 7, 2010, when Apple Inc. announced the iPhone at a developers conference, they can receive up to $480 off the device's full price -- meaning, the cost of the device without a handset subsidy and contract from the wireless company. If a Rogers customer bought their iPhone on a contract between January 1, 2009, and June 7, 2010, they get $250 off the non-subsidized device; if they bought the device on or before December 31st, they get $480 off.
The iPhone 4 is also available on a subsidized three-year contract at Rogers for $159, for the model with 16 gigabytes of memory, and $269 for the 32 GB model. Bell and Telus have not yet released pricing for the iPhone 4, but pricing between Canada's largest three providers, for both devices and data plans, tend to be relatively similar.
As the price of voice calls drops drastically, carriers are looking towards wireless data revenues -- from customers surfing the Web, emailing, and streaming video -- to compensate. Much of Rogers' recent revenue growth has been because of wireless data, a lot of which comes from iPhone users. Late on Thursday, Bell announced that anyone who buys the iPhone 4 with them on a contract will get data plan offering 6 GB per month for the duration of the contract - which can be shared with a iPad for an additional $10 per month. Currently, users are not allowed to split existing data plans between the two devices. Bell offers iPad data plans starting at $15 for 250 megabytes and $35 for 5GB.
When the iPhone first came to Canada, Rogers was the only carrier with a network capable of handling the device and providing a rich user experience. However, in November 2009, Bell and Telus launched an advanced network together that was fully capable of supporting advanced smart phones. Both wireless carriers soon started offering service for the iPhone and have gradually eroded Rogers' lead in picking up new subscribers, though Rogers still has roughly as many smart phone users as Bell and Telus combined.
Part of Rogers strategy is now upgrading its existing voice-only customers, and its existing smart phone customers, to the most advanced devices - which require lots of wireless data and condition consumers to use more data.
On a conference call with analysts this week, the president of Rogers wireless and cable divisions said the average monthly data usage for its iPad customers was roughly 750 megabytes -- roughly half of what they expected.