Pointing Towards a Competitive Future for Mobile Markets in Canada?

Canada is one of the countries where consumers pay the highest mobile contract fees in the world. In short, this situation is mainly due to an oligopolistic/cartelistic structure that favors providers/retailers over consumers, which lowers competition and encourages scarcity on the supply side. The customer empowerment concept can essentially be thrown away for that particular market. To better understand how this market is evolving in Canada, and especially in Quebec, one interesting approach, that some may argue simplistic, is to use the 5 components of the Porter model: (1) manufacturers, (2) retailers/providers, (3) new entries, (4) substitute products, and (5) consumers.

The Porter Model on Competition (1980)
The Porter Model on Competition (1980)

1. Manufacturers

Let’s start with manufacturers. This is where the competition is most aggressive, since it is an international competition. Companies continue to evolve and many new products are launched. The following companies are actually selling/competing in Canada.

1. Apple (iPhone)
2. HP
3. HTC
4. LG
5. Motorola
6. Nokia
7. Palm
8. Research in Motion (BlackBerrY)
9. Samsung
10. Sanyo

2. Retailers/providers

Providers have to be considered as the starting point of our anti-competition story. First, there are not many providers/retailers, and secondly, all of these providers control other sub-brands.

1. Rogers controls Fido
2. Telus controls Koodo
3. Bell controls Solo & rent its network to Virgin Mobile

Thirdly, as in most countries, the low number of providers encourages exclusivity for a specific phone. For instance, Telus has, at the time being, exclusivity on the HTC Pro 2 which reinforces the power of the provider over consumers.

3. New entries

The end of this oligopolistic structure is still under legal fights, notably for access to networks. Up to 6 providers (for more on the topic, I would suggest to read the following post by Ian Hardy) are supposed to join the market in the next few years. Here is the list:

1. DAVE Wireless
2. EastLink
3. Globalive
4. Public Mobile
5. Shaw
6. Videotron (already slowly entered)

Like in most oligopolistic markets, the entry of these new competitors would favor lower prices and give more power to consumers.

4. Substitute products

In comparison to other products, with the emergence of powerful smartphones that are integrating features (see my post entitled Three types of convergence – Is the future friendly? for a discussion about convergence), the mobile market in Canada is taking market shares away from other products such as cameras, MP3 players, electronic agendas,etc…

5. Consumers

Many customers are still locked-in with awful 3-years contracts. Furthermore, the structure of monthly contract fees encourages these 3-year contracts. Some providers have even started to pay the end of some consumers contracts’ with another provider in order to gain new clients they would thereafter locked-in with 3-year contracts.


To conclude, the mobile market in Canada doesn’t favor competition at all which puts the consumers handicapped with expensive contracts. However, the possible entry of new providers should favor more competition and lower the prices in the next few years. Let’s wait and see what the future will be, and like the Telus catchy sentence say, we only hope that the “future is friendly” for the consumers that we are? Any comments?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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Is Twitter the Next Big Thing or the Next MySpace?

Is Twitter the next big thing or is it the next MySpace? And what about Facebook and Google? These are interesting questions managers keep asking themselves. I was reading earlier this week an article published in Business Week on how Twitter has made the real-time web an important issue on the Internet and how it can be considered a potential competitor for Google. Briefly, the author interviewed a truly biased specialist who has invested money in Twitter and companies that offer solutions to track Twitter information. Personally, I think the article was biased and off-the-track, and I don’t want to offend the pro-Twitter squad, but Twitter has many similarities to past social platforms that have failed such as (1) Friendster, (2) MySpace and (3) Second Life. This leads me to pretend that Twitter tends more to be the Next MySpace than a potential competitor for Facebook. Here is my reasoning in 8 points:

1. Too much reliability problems
2. Too much spamming
3. Not enough privacy
4. Too much babbles
5. Not enough readers
6. Too hard to maintain conversations
7. Too simple
8. Too much competition on the radar


1. Too much reliability problems

This seems similar to what Friendster and Second Life have experienced in the past as Twitter is getting attacked from everywhere on the planet; how many times will you hear “Twitter is down… again”? Is there anything worse than trying to log onto a website that is not working? These reliability problems are not causing too much damage for the moment, but one day, users will get tired and trust will be broken.

Twitter is down

2. Too much spamming

Spamming on Twitter is just starting. For instance, just add 10 Internet gurus to your “follow” list and you will receive tons of new followers (spammers) that will chase (follow) you not to connect with you, but more to add you (if you reciprocate) as an extra follower. There is a developing market of companies sharing techniques to increase their number of followers; Mashable even wrote an article that summarizes this emerging market. What is the point of having new followers if these followers don’t care about you? Anyway. Personally, the worst type of spam I have experienced is when non-followers mentioned me, with the known symbol @ in a non-targeted corporate tweet. Sure, it is possible to block them and report spam, but this is time-consuming for nothing.

3. Not enough privacy

Some may also say that Twitter is really bad in terms of privacy, and I totally agree, but for now, if I want to have more privacy, I just log onto another platform and share with my friends on Facebook or on the good old MSN.

4. Too much babbles

In a recent study, it was said that 40% of the content on Twitter was insignificant babbles. I would totally agree with the point of view of researcher and social networks specialist danah boyd who argued that babbles are not necessarily babbles for everyone. However, these « babbles » are generally information I categorized as spam for the writers (my “following”) I don’t really know personally – and if I know the writer of those babbles, well then, maybe they are not always to be considered as such.

Recent Study

5. Not enough listening

What is really surprising on Twitter is that you can have 10,000 followers but it can happen that almost none of them will read what you post. To read you, they need to be online, they need to be connected to their Twitter account via the Twitter website, via Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Twitterriffic, depending which tool they are using, and they need to actively follow you. The Dunbar number stipulates that one human cannot follow intimately more than 150 people. Good luck! This is why Twitter is a paradise for quantity and not quality.

6. Too hard to maintain conversations

Have you ever tried to maintain a conversation of four to five tweets exchange with someone on Twitter? This is really hard, and personally, when I want to do that, I just use another platform.

7. Too simple

If the idea behind Twitter is simple, this is mainly what makes it popular; however it is sometimes too simple. The only thing you can do is post a tweet or read a tweet, so once again I use another platform.

8. Too much competition on the radar

Facebook has bought Friendfeed, launched Facebook Lite and Google will launch Google Caffeine and Google Wave. What does this mean? This means that even though Twitter is growing fast, it is a matter of time before competition gets the better of it. In other words, every user should say thanks to Twitter for forcing Facebook and Google to come up with ideas to exploit the real-time web as fast as possible.

Should your company be on Twitter?

After listing all these reasons why Twitter is not the next big thing, the main question some would ask me is: “should my company be on Twitter?” And my answer would be: YES. Why? Mainly because Twitter is an interesting way to control your brand image, not to build it, but to control for negative comments against your brand. However, is Twitter the next big thing? NO, and if you want to build for the future, focus your energies on Facebook and follow the launch of Google Wave.

What will we learn from Twitter?

We should at least learn two things from Twitter, that there is need for the real-time web and a need for fandom.

1. Need for the real-time web

The 140-word tweet has been a good vehicle to bring the real-time web as an Internet mainstream issue which could have been predicted by the emergence of SMS. This trend is there to stay. This is also why Google will launch Google Caffeine and Google Wave soon enough, in order to answer Twitter’s growth.

2. A need for fandom

Some might say that there is a “voyeur” in us all and that there is a need for fandom. That would explain why celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher (more than 3 million followers) and Weird Al Yankovic (more than 1 million followers) have embraced Twitter to give the possibility to their fans to follow them, to read what they have to say because they are celebrities.


In conclusion, I personally don’t think Twitter is the next big thing, but more likely a fad that will soon go away like Friendster, MySpace and Second Life did in the past ten years. However, we must thank Twitter for bringing the real-time web to another level. Any other opinions or thoughts on the topic?

Jean-Francois Belisle