Android Phones Launched in Canada: Rogers Has Some Interesting Firsts

Rogers Logo Yesterday Rogers launched the first Android phones available in Canada with two devices: the HTC Magic (touch screen only) and HTC Dream (touchscreen and slide-out keyboard). Rogers is the first carrier worldwide offering both these devices and also the first North American carrier to offer the HTC Magic.

Over two years ago, in a post Precursor to GPhone? On My Blackberry?, I had predicted any Google-powered phone would include all the Google features found on the BlackBerry (or iPhone).  In this regard today’s demonstration and presentation did not disappoint. Search, Maps with Latitude, GTalk, GMail, News, Google Docs, Sync, Calendar, were all included in the demonstration with the same Google features as found on any BlackBerry or iPhone. However, there were some differentiating features:

  • HTC Dream - Black with Slide Open both phones run on Rogers recently launched 3.5G 7.2 Mbps HSPA network, which Rogers claims to approach broadband DSL speeds and to be 3x faster than any other Canadian wireless data network
  • there are over 3,200 applications available in the Android Market. Currently these applications are free; however, Google is expected to add a payment system in a few months.
  • both phones have a touchscreen with haptic keyboard which, on a brief trial, was definitely impressive (the Dream also has a physical slide-out keyboard)

A few comments:

  • While the Skype Lite beta client was seen on the demonstration devices, it does not work at the moment on Rogers. See my upcoming post about Rogers’ position on supporting Skype for more details; suffice it to say it is a Skype issue that needs to be addressed at this point.
  • They are currently targeting the consumer market. With a launch involving “Fringe” actor Joshua Jackson (a native Canadian), the entire presentation centered on drawing attention through his promotional tour of the past few days.
  • Pricing for these devices are C$149 when purchased with a three year plan. The voice and data plans are the same pricing as for BlackBerry and iPhone but with an one month introductory offering of C$30 for 6GB data usage per month. Interestingly, according to a salesperson in the Rogers Retail Store at their headquarters, the same offer is being made for iPhone purchases during June.
  • Rogers continues to demonstrate an ability to outperform AT&T in the U.S. when it comes to fully supporting 3G, and now 3.5G, networks.
  • In Om Malik’s post today, With 2M Downloads, Where Is Right on Track, it appears that ”Where” is the most popular Android application. However, for Rogers’ customers the question would be the extent of the Canadian content in this application.
  • Yesterday T-Mobile USA’s CTO reported that over 1 million G1 phones have been sold in the U.S. over the first six months in the market. According to mocoNews.net, it appears that T-Mobile USA is going ahead with new Android models and forsaking Nokia’s new N97 offering:

    [CTO] Brodman said they are not very interested in Nokia’s flagship N97 device, which hits the market this month. Brodman: “Some of the Nokia/Symbian devices have a lot of functionality, but they are quite expensive and Symbian does not have a lot of traction in the U.S. While Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is a strong partner, we haven’t had a lot of demand for N-series products to date.”

Bottom line: Android opens up new user choices in the Canadian consumer smartphone market. Frankly, the key attraction and differentiator will be the variety of applications available on Android Market along with the overall touchscreen user experience. As a representative application, at yesterday’s launch they mentioned Savvy Shopper that allows price comparisons, using the camera as a bar code reader, for any product in their database.

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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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