Competition, Canadian-style?

by Yule Heibel on July 8, 2008

For god’s sake, someone fire this woman and start over with the “Canadian Competition Bureau” while you’re at it!  Yet another article in the paper on Rogers‘s colossal f*ck-up with the iPhone: iPhone rate plans from Rogers spark consumer protest.  But this one distinguishes itself for the closing quote by Marilyn Nahum, identified as the spokeswoman for the Canadian Competition Bureau (whatever that is):

“Where consumers are concerned about the plans being offered with the iPhones, we don’t consider this to be a competition issue,” said Competition Bureau spokeswoman Marilyn Nahum.

“We don’t consider the iPhone to be a distinct market.

“It’s a cellphone that competes with other cellphones in the market. If consumers don’t like the plans being offered with the iPhone, they can go to the competitors.”

Um, yeah.  The “competitors” that your pissed-off customers will go to are called “other countries.”  And we wonder why Canada’s edge in innovation and economics and post-graduate degrees isn’t what it might or should be.


Davin July 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

This is an interesting topic because the competition is between different carriers who have different requirements for the equipment offered. On one hand, Rogers is the only network with the capabilities in the network to technically handle an iPhone, so Telus’ and Bell’s data plans are irrelevant to consumers. On the other hand, I am sure the Competition Bureau doesn’t see anything special about the iPhone but that is probably because none of them have ever used one and realized that an unlimited dataplan is integral to the user experience. So they are not qualified to make the distinction about the position that Rogers is now in with a monopoly on iPhone services.

It ought to be pointed out to Marilyn that the iPhone is already being treated by software companies as a completely new application platform and “phone” is near the bottom of the list of the hundreds, if not thousands, of things you can do on one of these devices currently.

Therefore, this being said, the only provider that can provide service for this platform is Rogers, and it is plainly unmistakable that there is a competition issue due to monopoly now.

Davin July 8, 2008 at 2:43 pm

A little bit of back-up from Michael Geist here:

“Indeed, Rogers has a monopoly on the iPhone since it is the only Canadian carrier currently capable of carrying the device.”

Yule July 9, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the Geist link/quote, Davin.

I just posted another entry today, which includes a pointer to documentation about mobile technologies and their impact on economic productivity. You’ll find that’s more fodder, I’m sure! We (Canada) really need to break the death-grip of monopoly thinking in this important industry.
It just occurred to me that mobile service in Canada is like health care in the US. Both are really lovely if you’re getting them via a big corporate gig (say, you work for the government and are issued a Blackberry with a good plan [Canada], or you work for a big company and get a great health care plan [US]). But if you’re on your own, not protected by some big boss, you’re bleeding in the road, stuck with premiums that are way too high.

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