Score One for the Blogosphere – Immense PR Turmoil – Rogers Caves.

Or maybe this should be called: Steve Jobs Does Not Tolerate even the Contemplation of Failure.

Last week I reported on Rogers’ announcement of new data plans for both the forthcoming iPhone (available in two days) and RIM’s Blackberry. In fact, I had immediately changed my Blackberry plan to a new one where the price per MB had gone down by 96%.

But the blogger and Internet response to the announcements re the iPhone turned into a huge PR fiasco for Rogers. Almost 60,000 signed an online petition; reaction on the Internet through blog posts and comments demonstrated that Apple has a huge fan base that wants to remain loyal to Apple but would not tolerate being overcharged. Rumors had Apple diverting Canadian-designated iPhone shipments to other countries in response to Rogers’ pricing. The story garnered five minute bytes on evening national newscasts on all three Canadian television networks. Comparisons with AT&T and T-Mobile plans demonstrated that either Rogers did not have sufficient infrastructure, including backhaul, to support unlimited data plans or they were simply overcharging due to their GSM monopoly situation in Canada. It became an international story with CNN amongst others covering it.

Mark Evans and I (see link above) both predicted these plans would not garner the sales volumes that Apple was expecting.

Today Rogers announced that, until August 30, any smartphone, including Blackberries on BIS, on the 3G network will be able to get a $30 per month data plan covering 6GB of data until August 31. As predicted last fall, I knew the RIM people had to be onto Rogers as soon as they announced this plan for the iPhone. Now Rogers has to address the inequity of the situation where Blackberries on BES (read “corporate accounts”) are still being charged $60 for 25MB. (When I started this post, the new data plan was only for the iPhone. Talk about “Breaking News”.)

Thanks to the leadership of Steve Jobs at Apple and Jim Balsille at RIM, along with the very passionate Canadian Apple and Blackberry fan base, for demonstrating that it is possible for the smartphone vendors to call the shots. Even in monopoly situations, carriers have limits as to how much the public will tolerate the abuse of a public trust — in this case licenses for wireless communications. Obviously ARPU went out the door in favor of customer recruitment. (Were bonus plans renegotiated at Rogers?) Let’s see if the same happens in Mexico and New Zealand where again, there are some very exorbitant plans offered for the iPhone.

And, in closing, let the real Canadian Smartphone Games begin!

Reaction at Crackberry.com; Rogers initial press release today

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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