Thursday, April 3, 2008

Daily Reading: Does Apple Hate Canada?

I am aware of this, and am going to comment (I'm gonna go all Gruber on the Globe & Mail ,itsa gonna be fun). Right now I am dad, and have sleeping baby in ams, which makes it tough to type. Back later.

Okay, I'm back.

The article currently under discussion is this one over at the Globe and Mail.

The opening paragraph sums up the argument, like any good inverted pyramid should. Here are the greivances:

"its products cost more here than they do south of the border despite near parity in the currencies, new services often arrive long after they're launched in the U.S., and then there's the conspicuous absence of the company's iPhone."

We'll get to that in a moment, but first, let's look at this line: "So does Apple hate Canada? It's a question that draws a mixed response from observers — and silence from the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters."

This is written like it is news, but it is not. Any question asked about Apple *always* draws mixed responses from observes, and it is a rare news story indeed that ever is commented on by the notoriously tight-lipped Apple. It's like saying that a Balmer commented on a story about Microsoft. Of course he did. He's Balmer. You can't shut him up. Jobs, on the other hand, has a cone of silence around Apple. They will talk about product releases when they are released, but in the meantime? Forget it. Rumours and innuendo, and the occasional leaked memo is all you've got to go on.

"When Apple looks out at the world, they look for the best market opportunities — and they don't see that with Canada," says Michelle Warren, an analyst with Info-Tech Research Group of London, Ont.

Which is pretty fair. Let's look at the iPhone. Where is it rolled out? In the USA (population: 304 million) Great Britain (population: 59 million), Germany (population: 82 million), France (population: 64.5 million) and Ireland (population: 6 million). With the exception of Ireland, all these markets are bigger than the Canada (pop: 33 million) by at least almost double. If you're in the business of selling phones, you gotta go where the people are.

And lets not forget there are many countries out there with populations much bigger, much, much bigger than Canada's, that also don't have the iPhone.

Does that mean we'll never get the iPhone? Far from it. It just means that, in order of priority, we're not at the top of the list. We know this, as Canadians. It bugs us, but we know it.

And we wouldn't have it any other way. We don't want to be Americans. Someone overseas confuses us for an American, we will set them straight, boy howdy. unfortunately, sometimes not being American is not without its problems, and we have to deal with no iPhone for a year. Go cry about it to your Universal Medicare.

Apple's iTunes music store was not launched in Canada until nearly four years after the store went online in the United States. And when the service began offering TV shows, negotiations with Canadian networks prevented their distribution through iTunes Canada for more than two years after they went on sale in the U.S.

"In all of these instances, there are negotiations that are going on that require delay in the rollout of hardware," says Josh Martin, a senior analyst with Yankee Group.

Which is a far cry from hating us. It's like never letting your neighbour in, then calling them up and asking why they never come visit.

Now, I'm glad that there are rules around Canadian content, and Canadian ownership, even when it backfires in my face. Yeah, I'd love an iPhone, and I have a rant scheduled for sometime in the near future about the selection at the Canadian iTunes store, but I know that Apple really wants to sell me stuff. That's why they're in business. And if other people (government, record labels, TV stations, etc.) prevent them from doing that, should I really complain?

My biggest problem with the article, though, comes at the end.

Even though their currencies are within a couple of cents of parity, Apple's products and software cost Canadian consumers anywhere from 5 per cent to nearly 40 per cent more than their American counterparts pay.

A few paragraphs later, he goes on to discuss the iTunes music store. But instead of commenting on pricing models between the two store, the author again talks about delays and lack of selection. I'm with you there, but in the interest of fairness, don't you think you should note that in 2004, when the the iTunes Music Store was launched, Canadians were paying $0.99 per song, just like Americans. Except that the Canadian Dollar was hovering around $0.84 US, meaning that Canadians were paying about $0.83USD song, or $0.16USD less.

And I've discussed the discrepancy between buying products from Apple US and Apple Canada in the past, and yes, there is a discrepancy. Sometimes, it's pretty big. But the fact remains that Apple is not the only one to do this, nor are they the most egregious offender. A quick search at Best Buy's American site and Canadian site shows the Canadian Sale price for a 42 inch Toshiba REGZA is still $200 more than the non-sale price for the same TV in the states. While there are exceptions, as a general rule Canadians pay more for consumer electronics, almost universally across the board. Heck, a new Rav 4 starts at $21,250 in the states, and $27,400. This is not something that should be shocking.

Yes, it is not something we should take lying down. And if this article causes the Apple prices to drop, I'll be happy as a clamshell (first gen bondi blue)

Does Apple hate us? Do they hate Australia? Mexico? Japan? 90% of the world? No. If they can't move as fast as we would like, I don't know it means they hate us. When the Air was announced, it was available in Canada at the same time as in the states. I really wish they'd negotiate faster to get movies and better (you heard me, better) shows on the Canadian iTunes store.

But the fact that they even bother negotiating at all, considering Roger's deathgrip on GSM, considering the many layers of copyright and legal wrangling to sell or rent movies in Canada means that they do care about us as a market.

Just, you know, not as much as we Canadians would like....

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