Earlier this year GIZMODO announced the obvious, that Rogers Wireless would eventually launch the iPhone in Canada, based on the ever-reliable “confirmation from customer service” which took the form of an apparent email… this turned out to be a hoax. Rogers is, of course, the only GSM carrier in Canada, and since the iPhone is a GSM network device, is the obvious choice, so there was little to this story other than a tease (and possibly a GoogleTrawl) for desperate iPhone fanatics north of the 49th.
Despite vehement denials and warnings from Rogers spokespeople, I have it on slightly better authority from an unnameable closer-to-the-source Rogers employee that the date for launching the Rogers iPhone in Canada will land in December — making those overnight lineups outside the Apple Store so much more pleasant!
It is, however, unclear to me whether this will be the impotent 2.5G iPhone a la AT&T, or the kick-ass 3G iPhone rumoured to be teeing up to launch in Europe in October. Launching a 3G iPhone in Canada that is rather unlocked would be great for T-Mobile and other U.S. GSM carriers, such as they are, because it’d allow people to hook up an iPhone to existing GSM accounts with other service providers, despite AT&T‘s rumoured two-year exclusivity lockout.
What most of the hysterical journalists I have read in the past few weeks have overlooked is that the iPhone is a service, and not just a device: there are provisioning systems, security standards, and feature interactions (specifically, the visual voicemail tool is not exactly out-of-the-box wireless voicemail technology) which are client-server and which require service providers to deploy network equipment to coincide with the iPhone launch. Some carriers’ architectures will lend themselves better to this than others. So it’s not simply a case of getting the handsets, and some carriers are more stuffy than others about third-party hardware and protocols riding in their network.
In this sense, iPhone is interesting not just because it’s a cool, game-changing device .. but moreso because it’s the first fundamentally new network approach to break down the bunker doors to the wireless carriers metro switching networks since RIM. And as Richard McManus points out, it’s a platform that’s carrying a lot more applications than just email.
In the meantime, insofar as wireless device crazes go, the iPhone has big shoes to fill in outselling the RAZR.