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Spat with Rogers leaves Canadian Apple stores without iPhones

Apple, disgusted with Rogers Wireless for dumping egregious service plans on would-be iPhone 3G buyers, has decided that its Canadian retail stores will have no part in helping the carrier market the new handset to customers, AppleInsider has learned.

As a result, Canadian Apple Retail stores won't be selling the new 3G touchscreen phones come Friday, representatives for the Cupertino-based company said during a private conference call on Monday evening. Instead, it will be up to Rogers and its partner Fido to lock subscribers into steep 3-year contracts that require a minimum monthly payment of $60 for just 150 minutes, 75 text messages, and 400MB of data.

Calls to Canadian Apple retail stores early Tuesday confirmed the move once over. Although the majority of the of stores contacted by AppleInsider said they were still unsure whether they'd be selling the new iPhone, one representative ultimately confirmed that Rogers and its partner stores will be the only place to buy iPhone 3G come Friday. Canadian Apple retail stores will, however, have demo units on hand the same day.

Asked whether the decision not to sell the iPhone was a result of Rogers' poor service offerings, the representative would only say that: "We have nothing to do with the service plans. Those are Rogers' plans."

Word of Apple's abandonment of in-store sales comes just days after the company was reported to have sanctioned Rogers by diverting a significant amount of Canada's iPhone 3G shipments to Europe as initial retribution. As a result, the Canadian carrier will likely receive only about 10 to 20 units per store, and therefore should "exercise caution" not to promise ample stock on launch day, people familiar with the matter have said.

Apple's knee-jerk reaction is believed to have been further stimulated by public outrage on the part of Canadian consumers following the release of the local pricing plans. Always concerned with its image, the iPhone maker has watched nearly 50,000 of its loyal customers sign an anti-Rogers petition at ruinediphone.com, which has in turn sparked hundreds of potentially damaging reports on the matter by bloggers and members of the mainstream media.

For its part, Rogers in official statements has attempted to justify the cost of its service and data plans by arguing that the "majority" of international iPhone carriers have capped data. As such, a spokesperson said Rogers believes its plans to be better than those of Orange France, for example, which include a 500MB 'reasonable use' limit versus the 2GB maximum on the top-tier Canadian iPhone plan that fetches $115 per month.

"Unlimited plans could end up costing customers more for what they don't use," the spokesperson said. "Our iPhone plans more than accommodate the vast majority of customers."