It could be a new age for Windows Phone in Canada. For years the global third-place smartphone OS was actually fourth place in Canada thanks to surprising residual strength for homegrown option BlackBerry. BB may be on the ropes everywhere else, but it still had some resonance here. Windows Phone was further hampered by Nokia’s Lumia phones not getting broad release here, often signing carrier specific deals (and often with Rogers). When Windows Phones got broad carrier release, they sold better (look at the Samsung Ativ S, a minor player globally, but a major player in the Windows Phone scene in Canada due to being released on all of the “big three” carriers).
Even if you were willing to pay full price for a device, Nokia wouldn’t sell it to you even if none of the carriers jumped on board. Want the Lumia 1520 phablet? Import it from the U.S. (for a version that will work on some Canadian carriers) or from Mexico (for the version that would work on all Canadian carriers). And expect to pay a huge markup.
Things have changed. Microsoft is now in charge of the Lumia line, and Microsoft is now selling the Lumia 830 (the phone dubbed “the affordable flagship”) unlocked on Microsoftstore.com.
I’m *really* happy about this. Yes, at $549.00, the price is more than you’d pay getting a locked one through your carrier ($400-500), but depending on your carrier that’s as little as a $49 premium to get it factory unlocked and delivered to your door.
It’s also an important precedent. Well, two important precedents: starting with the release of the Lumia 635 earlier this year, and continuing with the Lumia 830, Microsoft seems to be releasing their devices more broadly in Canada, including unlocked through their own stores and online. Consider:
– The Lumia 635 is being sold through major players like Telus, Koodo, Rogers, Fido, and Chatr, as well as regional carrier TBay Tel, and finally a raft of Canadian MVNOs (Cityfone, BMO Talk & Earn, RBC Talk & Save, Sears Connect, and Primus Wireless).
– The Lumia 830 is available at almost all of the major national players: Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, and Koodo, plus most of the major regional players (SaskTel, MTS, and TBay Tel).
Add in the Samsung Ativ S still being available at Bell, the Lumia 520 still being available at Chatr, and the HTC 8S still being available at both Videotron and Mobilicity, this is the broadest availability of Windows Phones we’ve ever had in Canada. By a country kilometre.
An end to carrier exclusivity, with new devices going to tonnes of carriers? New devices (Lumia 635, Lumia 830, Blu Win Jr., Blu Win HD, and the forthcoming Yezz Billy 4.7) all being available unlocked and consumer direct from Microsoft? This may be the beginning of a golden age for Windows Phone in Canada. It’s a long time coming.