iPhones and iBasketball

Rogers and the iPhone. iPhone and Rogers. A match made in… well… Canada. Here’s the story: Rogers announces iPhone price plans for the Canadian roll-out of the Apple phenom. Customers/consumers kick up a storm as the prices are seismically higher than in the US or anywhere else for that matter. Then Rogers announces a dramatic price drop.

Veritas’ Touchdown & Fumbles weighed in calling the original price roll-out a “fumble” but giving points for Rogers’ recovery.

Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. still dropped the ball in the run-up to today’s Canadian debut of the much-vaunted iPhone, with respect to rates for the kind of wireless package needed to support the device. Rogers was deluged with angry e-mails and phone calls, and more than 50,000 people signed an online petition protesting the announced package price of $100 per month for six gigabytes of data. The company was smart – and I think recovered the Fumble – by rushing out a $30 per month special price for the plan, provided you sign up by the end of August and commit to a three-year contract. It showed them to be responsive and listening to their customers. However, I say the original Fumble call stands, because Rogers failed to see the backlash coming despite the incredible amount of online chatter on blogs, social marketing sites, you name it – in other words, all over the geekosphere where the iPhone’s bulls-eye target market lives. Responding prior to launch is good, but not letting the wave of discontent get as huge as it did – when all they had to do was watch what was brewing right in front of them online – would have been much, much better.

I take issue with Veritas here. With a product roll-out, Rogers has only one chance to get it right. While supposedly listening to their customers and finally acquiescing, Rogers comes off less responsive and more foolish. As a potential iPhone purchaser, a dramatic price drop reminds me how arbitrary prices are set for this market. If prices can be lowered from $100 to $30 a month, why shouldn’t I kick up a storm and hope they go down to $10 in a few months? Rogers should have set a more reasonable price, yes, but if they had set $60 prices and kept relatively quiet, they’d be in better reputation shape right now.

The wireless industry is a hard nut to crack in terms of determining a fair price. Like airline tickets, it’s almost impossible to discern what goes into the pricing of a cell phone plan. Economics says Rogers should charge as much for the iPhone as consumers will pay. Maybe consumers will consider it a “rip-off” or “overpriced” but it is not in Rogers’ best interest to point out the seemingly arbitrariness of their pricing by slashing as soon as the blogs start to roll.

————————

From sloppy accommodation to responsive heroism, The Score, Canada’s perennial third sports TV network, showed how to listen to potential customers’ needs by picking up Team Canada’s qualifying tournament in Athens next week. Sports blogs and newspaper columns bulged with confusion as to why the last ditch effort for Canada to make the Olympics was not going to show up on anyone’s dial. Granted, the chances of centre  Samuel Dalembert and crew of making it out of this tournament were slim like Leo Rautins’ knees, but there was no denying the appetite for all things basketball, especially in sports-poor July.

The Score is establishing itself as the basketball station in Canada and with responsive moves like this, it’s not hard to see why.

The difference in responses: The Score saw a public demand and stepped in whereas Rogers took a chance, got slammed, and scrambled to recover. I can’t wait to watch YouTube highlights of Team Canada on my (imaginary) iPhone.

Advertisements