Thursday, June 19, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone In Canada, When and With Who

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Yet another smart phone platform launched yesterday (June 18th) with a press announcement on par with Apple or Samsung.  Amazon's Jeff Bezos announced the Fire Phone.  Pre orders have already started the official launch date is July 25th.  Amazon's Fire Phone will be launching just in the United States and only available on AT&T.   

This hasn't stopped many this side of the 49th parallel looking for an alternative to the androiPhones that occupy ninety percent of the smartphone market from wondering when the Fire Phone will launch in Canada and if only one carrier will be able to offer the Fire Phone which one will it be?  

Answering these questions will come later rather than sooner unfortunately.  Amazon's digital products such as streamed music, movies and TV shows are not available in Canada due to intellectual rights issues.  It would make no sense to sell the phone if the content is not available.

If it is the intention to keep the Fire Phone on one carrier only per country like Apple did during the early life of the iPhone then it could make for interesting wagering. Rogers would be the the most likely candidate.  Canada's most popular cellular carrier was also the first with the iPhone and Android.  

Bell can't be counted out, they were the only carrier to snag the Palm Pre, we all know how that turned out but they were carrier that was willing to take a chance on a new smartphone platform.  

There is a chance although a slim one that one of Canada's newer regional cell carriers such as Mobilicity or Wind Mobile will pick up the Fire Phone to finally vault one of the struggling carriers over the one million mark, but for Amazon thy would need an agreement with a national carrier if they are to have any chance at success in the market that Apple and Google already dominate.  

Despite the growth of the smartphone industry in the past decade it has been unable to support more than two platforms.  Prior to the introduction of the iPhone Blackberry and to a lesser extent Windows Mobile were the two big dogs in the pound.  In the early going after iPhone hit the scene, Blackberry went to second place and Windows Mobile became road kill.  Then after the rise of Android, it was Blackberry that became left over kibble in the food bowl.  

Amazon will have to deliver something nothing short of spectacular just to be a viable competitor to iPhone and Android. To get to that point in Canada Amazon will have to get all their digital content products into the Canadian as soon as possible.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Most People Overpay For Online Downloads And Subscriptions

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Most content online have fixed prices such as eight dollars a month Netflix or sixty dollars a year for Xbox Live for subscriptions or single downloads much as iTunes $1.29 per song.  Unknown to most people who key in their credit card numbers to access online content, they will end up paying much more than they think.

Many carry a balences on the same credit cards that they buy online downloads and subscriptions.  When someone uses a credit card carrying an outstanding balence the interest starts adding up the very second that Netflix charges the credit card account to collect their monthly fee or when the buy button is clicked on to start a download from iTunes.  

Relief from paying credit card interest on your online subscriptions and downloads may be as close as your debit card.  CIBC and TD have added Visa debit onto their Interac debit cards.  CIBC customers who have the advantage debit  card and TD customers who have a newer access card with the picture of the green chair can pay for online content with those cards.  Add your CIBC or TD debit card to your online accounts as if it's a Visa using the expiry date on the front of the card and the security code from the back of the card.  RBC customers can get a separate card for online purchases called the Virtual Visa Debit that provides the ability to pay through Visa but take the money from a chequing account.  BMO and ScotiaBank customers don't currently have this option, but there are reloadable prepaid Visa cards available through convenience stores and other outlets.  One of these reloadable prepaid are purchased, and can be reloaded using vouchers purchased at the same outlets that the reloadable Visa and MasterCards are sold, one thing that sets the reloadable cards apart is the ability to pay through one's own bank.  Through the traditional teller, ATM or through online banking.  The reloadable prepaid account  is set up as a payee on your bank account just like any other credit card account.  Using one of the many alternatives to one's traditional credit accounts will save a lot more money than they realize.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Ever Happened To TiVo In Canada

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TiVo considered by most in the home entertainment industry to be the original personal digital video recorder was revolutionary in the United States in the first few years it was in the market.  Meanwhile Canadians could only look South enviously as American TiVo users were pausing live TV, recording two shows at a time and fast forwarding through commercials much faster than the VCRs that Canadians were stuck with at the time.

In 2008 TiVo finally launched in Canada only to crash and burn within just a few months.  Many blamed TiVo's failure in Canada on obsolete hardware they were trying to sell to Canadians.  Others blamed the monthly subscription fees that were higher than the rental fees charged by the cable and satellite TV companies.  

TiVo claimed that series 3 and later hardware was never sold in Canada because the Canadian Radio-Television Commission never mandated cable companies to distribute CableCards to subscribers to allow third party hardware such as TiVo boxes to access subscription digital cable services.  

Just a couple of years ago TiVo was written off as ilrelvant as cable and satellite company personal video recorders take over the space in the entertainment centre cabinet that TiVo boxes used to dominate.  As cord cutting solutions had emerged as a credible alternative to cable and satellite services.

Some of those who have gotten fed up with cable or satellite fees have switched to a combination of over the air broadcast and Internet streaming a trend called cord cutting has emerged in the past couple of years.  The newest generation of TiVo boxes now integrate digital broadcast TV tuner to provide a personal video recorder with a client for Netflix, YouTube and other online video services in a single box.  

Canadians are most vocal with their frustration with cable and satellite TV fees, but cord cutting has yet to reach critical mass some speculate technical complexity having to use the TV's own tuner and a separate streaming video box.  The Canadian market for Digital TV recording remains largely untapped.  There is a huge potential to come back to the Great White North.  If TiVo executives have any business sense at all they could put out a service that charges one fee that includes the TiVo fees and Netflix or another streaming service.  Eliminate the the multiple devices and dealing with multiple companies.  

Canadians as dissatisfied with cable and satellite TV companies can give TiVo the potential to relaunch and be successful if they can rethink their business model and embrace cord cutting.