Those of you looking to save 20% on your iTunes and App Store purchases, head on down to Jean-Coutu Pharmacy between now and May 25. $25 cards are just $20, with a three-card purchase limit per visit. $75 of music/books/apps for $60 is as cheap as you will ever find it at Canadian retail.
Earlier this year, Apple finally reversed its long policy of not allowing iTunes gift cards to be used for app purchases, giving some weak excuse about Canadian tax codes. Whenever I pressed them to explain just what Canadian tax laws prohibited this, they could never give me an answer. Lame, I know.
Since the new policy, I’ve always been on the lookout for deals on iTunes gift cards. Thanks to a post from the awesome community at redflagdeals.com, I found one today. Until October 24th, you can get $60 worth of iTunes gift cards for just $48. That’s 20% off, turning your 99-cent apps into 80-cent apps.
Stock up this week. If you don’t have a Costco membership, ask a friend who does to buy you a cheap Costco gift card. The wholesaler allows anyone with a Costco gift card to shop at the store as if they had a membership, and will accept cash, debit or AMEX for your purchases. So even if you only have a $10 gift card, they’ll let you buy a $1,000 HDTV.
If you’ve frequented this blog, then you probably saw my review of the Samsung Omnia II, perhaps the worst phone I’ve ever used and a great example of the failings of Windows Mobile 6.5.
Luckily for Samsung, they’ve jumped on the Android bandwagon, a superior mobile OS offering from Google that is serious competition for the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant (Bell, $149 on a three-year contract) is a perfect marriage of Google’s OS with some very good hardware.
On the other side of this Canadian smartphone battle is the iPhone 4 (Rogers, Fido, Bell, Virgin Mobile, & Telus, $159 for 16GB and 269 for $32GB on a three-year contract). Avoiding the iPhone isn’t easy in Canada, thanks to the fact that it’s available on all of our major carriers, and none of them suck as much as AT&T in the U.S. The iPhone’s penetration in the Canadian market, both carrier and consumer-wise, make it hard to argue against.
Is the Galaxy better than an iPhone? Over two weeks, I tried to find out.
You should head on over to Engadget for all the details, but if you want the abridged version, here it is: AT&T is stopping the awesome $29.99 unlimited data iPad plan Steve Jobs heralded at the iPad unveiling and replacing it with a new $25 for 2GB of data package. Current subscribers get to keep the old plan, but everyone else gets the shaft. The move now makes Rogers and Bell, who offer 5GB of data for $35 in this country, seem like veritable deals.
The move, which comes just one month after the iPad 3G’s American launch, is being spun by AT&T as “making mobile internet affordable to more people.” This PR line is complete nonsense. Anyone who has been using an iPad knows that it eats up data, and this move pretty much acknowledges that AT&T completely underestimated iPad data consumption.
Let’s hope this shocking development at AT$T AT&T does not give Canada’s wireless CEOs any crazy ideas. By the way, my take on the iPad data plans offered by Bell, Rogers, & Telus is here.
At first, it seemed as if Telus was shaking things up. 500MB for $20 is a much better deal than Rogers and Bell’s 250MB for $15, primarily because you can use up 250MB in a couple of hours of YouTube action on the iPad. But the devil is in the details. After you’ve used your 500MB with Telus, overage fees begin at five cents per megabyte. There is a cap as to how much you can pay, $50. When I heard this, I thought “This is a great deal, $50 for unlimited 3G internet in Canada,” but upon further inspection, you’ll find that Telus caps usage at 5GB, giving it no advantage over Bell or Rogers.
Since it takes just another 600MB (1.1GB total) to reach $50, you’ll be at the Telus price cap very quickly. With Telus, you’ll reach $35 after only 800MB of total data. For the same $35, you’d get 5GB with Rogers or Bell. You’re paying $15 more than you would with Rogers or Bell for the same amount of data.
Surfing on the iPad is not at all like surfing on the iPhone. You’ll more often than not get the full version of websites, so browsing will eat into your data plans much quicker than they ever did on the iPhone. And because the iPad is so much faster than an iPhone, you’re loading more pages in the same amount of time.
Taking all of this into consideration, depending on what kind of user you are, you’ve got only one choice.
For people who won’t be using 3G often, and if you are good at keeping track of your data usage, Telus’ 500MB for $20 is a better deal than Rogers or Bell’s $15 offering. Telus says they will eventually come out with an iPad app to monitor your usage, so hang in there.
For heavy 3G data users, only the Bell and Rogers 5GB for $35 plans offer any value. Use 1.1GB of data with Telus and you’re at $50!
One other note: Telus charges a $35 activation fee, but gives you a month of free data. So you break even there.
Of course, if you’re a jailbroken iPhone, Android, or even Palm Pre phone owner, the best plan is to use a WiFi tethering app, like MyWi on jailbroken iPhones, to share your data plan between devices. And since you’re tethering over WiFi, there’s no need for you to buy the 3G version of the iPad, which costs $130 more. But if you like to be all legit, follow my advice above.
[UPDATE: FedEx drivers will be on the road until midnight tonight delivering iPads in Canada, and FedEx service centres will have extended hours tonight for those wanting to pick up their devices. This has proved to be one giant clusterf*$& for the courier.]
If you’re a Canadian expecting FedEx to deliver your iPad today, good luck. Various sources at FedEx have confirmed to me what Canada is tweeting about right now: The delivery of 80,000 iPads to people across the country has almost brought FedEx’ entire tracking and computerized delivery systems down, resulting in delayed – and possibly cancelled – deliveries.
For those who chose to buy one in-store today, Future Shop and Best Buy are your best bet. While they were kept from advertising that they would even stock the iPad by Apple, both chains (Which are actually just one chain, both owned by Best Buy) have received iPads. While Apple stores had massive lineups and waiting, the Future Shop in downtown Montreal had about 10 people and tons of stock at opening today.
At least one twitterer says Apple has given him a free accessory to make up for the shipping snafu. So if you’ve been kept from playing with your iPad today, make sure to call up Apple to complain. It seems that in this case, the worm has not gone to the early bird, but to the guy who strolled into Future Shop at 10 AM.
Apple has finally released its Canadian iPad pricing this morning, and as I predicted, pricing is at $549/$649/$749 for the 16, 32, and 64 GB models, respectively. 3G models are an additional $130. Despite this unbelievably fair pricing, complainers north of the border are out in full effect today.
In their opinion, Apple should be pricing the iPad at $499 Canadian, because for a few days in the last two years our dollar matched or surpassed parity with U.S. currency. But also in the last two years, the dollar has gone to as little as 76 cents, in March of 2009. Last May, the dollar was at about 86 cents. The lesson here: currencies fluctuate.
As I write this, $499 U.S. is $523.99 in Canadian funds. So based on today’s rates, Apple is charging just about five percent more for the iPad here, despite the increased costs of doing business above the border. To expect Apple, or any other company for that matter, to take the risk of pricing their products for the same dollar number as in the U.S. is completely and utterly illogical.
Neither can you sell electronics the same way you’d sell fish at a market, with variable pricing depending on the day. Not only does it make things difficult for retailers, it makes buying even more confusing for consumers. By pricing the iPad at 10 percent over the U.S. dollar figure, Apple is simply adjusting for the higher price of doing business in this country and giving themselves a small amount of wiggle room for currency fluctuations. When it comes to exchange rates, sometimes we lose, sometimes we win.
In April of 2002, the Canadian dollar stood at about 63 cents, and Apple released a new PowerBook starting at $2499 in the U.S. The price in Canada? $3699, or about $2330 in greenbacks. All those that took advantage of this price disparity in Canada’s favour, you can forward your bogus iPad pricing complaints to Apple along with a check for $169.
Have you been to a grocery store on both sides of the border recently? Shopped for clothes? Things are more expensive in Canada. Doing business is more expensive in Canada. That’s just how it is. We pay more taxes, but we get more services and more consumer protection. So calm down, be happy that the iPad isn’t priced even higher, and in two months when Greece’s debt crisis has brought the Canadian dollar down to 80 cents, enjoy your Apple currency rebate.
And if you’re looking for a review of the iPad, here’s a good one.
If you’re walking along Sainte-Catherine street in downtown Montreal at night, be prepared to be freaked out by a display of Apple retail zombies employees.
I don’t know what enticed this particular Apple store to put up this display of Mac Zombie cutouts, but it got creepier as I approached the store. A legion of Apple retail employees, frozen, waiting to sell you a MacBook Pro – and possibly eat your brains.
As someone who gets accused of “drinking the Apple Kool-Aid” sometimes, despite the fact that I never hesitate to bash bad Apple products (like the TV and virtually every mouse the company has ever made) I can see how this particular display makes Apple look a little cultish.
This time, Apple has gone too far. Or perhaps these are just real employees awaiting the Hale-Bopp comet.
One of the things I’ve read the most during my few days with the iPad is random bloggers and tech writers calling the iPad a “big iPod touch.” After spending almost a week with the iPad I can tell you one thing: Those people clearly don’t know what they are talking about.
Well, after half a day of waiting in a Best Buy parking lot in Vermont, I’m a very lucky Canadian who now has an iPad. It’s sitting on my lap as I type. Stay tuned, I’ll have more on the iPad this week right here on the blog and on CTV Montreal.