Students are hooking up more and more with wireless companies in the back-to-school season, making this period a key time for buying cellphones.
New smartphones are usually launched at this time along with plenty of deals as back-to-school starts to rival the holiday shopping season for cellphone sales, say analysts and wireless providers.
Computer science student Varun Vrayen was out this week cellphone shopping with his friends, all newly arrived from India to attend university. They were looking for unlimited calling to stay in touch with each other and call back home.
"If we need some help or if we're lost in the city, we'll need to talk," said 23-year-old Vrayen, who was in Public Mobile store in downtown Montreal.
Public Mobile launched just more than two years ago in Ontario and Quebec, offering cellphones with no contract and no credit checks.
Telecom analyst Troy Crandall said there's no one more "value oriented" than students and the new wireless providers have an opportunity to appeal directly to them.
"To me, it seems like prime time for these guys to get in and start going after these customers that are all looking for good value," said Crandall of MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
Other new wireless providers that have launched in the last several years are Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Quebecor's Videotron (TSX:QBR.B).
If students don't want the "hottest phones out there," there are still choices that offer good value, Crandall said.
But handset manufacturers are using this time to launch new smartphones, Crandall added.
Apple is expected to launch a new version of its iPhone in late September.
Samsung has unveiled a smartphone based on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 operating system, and it just introduced a new version of the Galaxy Note smartphone-tablet hybrid device.
"It used to be that the Christmas holiday season was the biggest, but the shift is moving into the Q3 back-to-school season. You're seeing that reflected in the launches of handsets," Crandall said.
David Fuller, chief marketing officer at Telus, said smartphones are significant to the back-to-school season for the Vancouver-based wireless provider (TSX:T).
"There are as many or more smartphones bought by customers in the back-to-school time frame than at Christmas," Fuller said.
"Students think of September as the start of their year," he said. "You get a lot of students just naturally making technology buys in the back-to-school period."
Fuller said Telus limits the number of promotions it offers in this period to avoid confusion, adding he believes the wireless industry "snows the consumer with 10,000 promotions," too many for sales staff and consumers to digest.
Crandall said the back-to-school season continues right into early October and the benefits of it can spill into wireless companies' fourth-quarter financial results, which include holiday shopping.
Pascal Picard, manager of sales and distribution at Public Mobile in Quebec, said the back-to-school season lasts longer than the holiday shopping period.
"I still believe Christmas is the biggest period for us but it's so condensed," Picard said. "Back-to-school is busy over a longer period."
For Vrayen and his friends, everything is still new in Canada and their cellphones are indispensable to stay in touch with family, friends and girlfriends.
"We need to communicate," said Karthikeyan Ramagzri Gajendran, 22, who is also studying computer science.
Welcome Back Fail
Lesson number one: spelling.
Being a reporter is difficult, guys.
Bad Wording Fail
We're just going to hope today never ends.
To be fair, this wasn't her first senior year.
Gift Card Fail
All the bi-curious students will be thrilled about this one.
School Essentials Fail
Someone's going to get laughed out of Anatomy 101.
What every girl needs.
Spelling isn't technically tested on the SAT.
Teacher Praise Fail
At this school they might not.
High Standards Fail
Apparently they aren't THAT committed.
Product Inclusion Fail
Advil and condoms are necessary to survive long school days and longer school nights.
Are we sending mixed messages?
Either it's "film week" and some hooligans changed the sign, or someone severely messed up MLK Jr.'s initials.
School Sign Fail
They should have gone with their original idea, "Students need remotes."
Let's leave the wordplay up to the professionals.
One Letter Fail
You've really got to get to those kids early!
Where do we even start?
In the future we see a lot of boys wearing wigs to go here.
Teaching Moment Fail
Hey, he's technically right!
School Name Fail
Have some self-respect, Garinger.
Spelling Bee Fail
Neither Maiesha nor Anamaria wrote this sign.
They're Vs. Their Fail
The game can't solve all your problems.
"Amiright?"- Any unemployed person who just graduated from college.
Always Remember Fail
To be fair, tomorrow is really hard to spell.
Spelling School Fail
Perhaps they meant the Yiddish "Shul," but probably not.
More like fuel for detention (juvenile detention).
Too Young For This Fail
"Elbows, Billy! Elbows!"
Sign Placement Fail
Be sure to stock up on folders, binders and machetes before September.
Burrito Weapon Fail
To be fair, it was a VERY spicy burrito.
School Supply Fail
This kid should have no problem making friends
Let's hope they're better at science than they are at English.
School Necessities Fail
The 24 pack is for the elementary pong game you saw earlier.
Public School Fail
Oh what a difference one letter makes...
NOW do you see why schools need more funding?
This is why you don't make up your own abbreviations.
Lingerie Uniform Fail
Wear these and you'll get an "A" for "Asked to go home and change."
They're also teaching a course on irony.
Out Of C's Fail
Sharp Elementary isn't so sharp after all.
Literally School Fail
What they meant was, "Sh! Cool..."
Understanding The Dictionary Fail
They ALMOST had it...
Worst sign placement ever!
"Accept" Vs. "Except" vs. Nonsense Fail
We think you already lost the challenge.
Inappropriate Sign Fail
Is that like a pervy haiku or something?
Have a budding drummer in the family? These drumstick pencils might drive the teacher crazy -- but at least your child will know you support their passion. <a href="http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/gifts/Drumstick-Pencils/5060043060749-item.html" target="_hplink">Drumstick Pencils</a>, $8.99, Indigo Books & Music
For a quickie place to hold papers (or even replace a binder), it doesn't get much cuter than this. <a href="http://www.capridesigns.com/p-337-clipboard-cotton-blossom.aspx" target="_hplink">Cotton Blossoms Clipboard</a>, $8 (US), Capri Designs.
Square Post-its are just not the way to go anywhere -- make all of those reminders prettier (and easier to recall) with pastel colours and a nice trim. <a href="http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=,4988&webid=365639&affixedcode=WW" target="_hplink">Martha Stewart Sticky Notes</a>, $2.99 for 3, Staples.
Put A Mustache On It
It never feels good to have to erase all your hard work, so make yourself laugh at least with this super cute mustache eraser. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Kikkerland-Mustache-Erasers/dp/B005FQ7TSK" target="_hplink">Kikkerland Mustache Eraser</a>, $1.50, Amazon.com.
Let your kid's love for British pop reign with a studded pencil case that (let's be honest) could easily double as a super cool purse pouch. <a href="http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/studded-union-jack-pencil-case/10028117?trail=&fromPLP=true&ancestorID=&searchString=&startSearch=&fromSearchBox=&addFacet=#" target="_hplink">Studded Union Jack Pencil Case</a>, $2, Walmart.
Very few kids want to see that alarm in the morning, so make it a little easier on them by getting them something that's at least cool to look at. <a href="http://www.dormco.com/Lime_Green_Cubed_LCD_Digital_Alarm_Clock_Dorm_item_p/l1-4-8-70903.htm" target="_hplink">Lime Green Cubed LCD Digital Clock Alarm</a>, from $16.50, dormco.com.
Grow A Lunch?
Make the lunchbox just that much cuter with a pot that separates out into snacks and meals, as well as utensils. <a href="http://www.rolostore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2341" target="_hplink">Lunch Pot</a>, $28.95, Rolo Store.
No Drip Cup
The stainless steel version of a sippy cup, these monsters will accompany your preschooler to nap time and back. <a href="http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/toys/Flip-Sip-Hungry-Monsters/732389022167-item.html?ref=by-shop%3aseasonal%3abts-ore-originals%3alist%3a17" target="_hplink">Flip & Sip in Hungry Monsters</a>, $22.95, Indigo Books & Music.
Hang Your Math
This is pretty snazzy way to ensure you won't forget your calculator for class -- attach this oversized piece tot he outside of your bag and it'll always be there. <a href="http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?webid=457194&CatIds=&AffixedCode=WW&=&=&=&cm_sp=Splash-_-DollarDeals-_-457194" target="_hplink">Aurex Carabiner 8-Digit Calculator,</a> $2.89 (until September 11), Staples.
Bound In Cuteness
There's nothing like sweet graphic art to help compel kids to get organized in class, is there? <a href="http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/colour-splash-fashion-binder-15/10028214?trail=&fromPLP=true&ancestorID=&searchString=&moduleName=&startSearch=&fromSearchBox=&addFacet=#" target="_hplink">Colour Splash Fashion Binder</a>, $4.97, Walmart.
Put A Name On It
Part toy, part utility, this notebook comes with 33 "elements" -- letters and symbols to spell out names and subjects -- that can be added to the cover of the book. <a href="http://www.shainsware.com/site/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13&products_id=48" target="_hplink">Notebook with 33 elements</a>, $13(US), Shains.
A brilliant little gadget to keep in your locker or in the kitchen for the whole family, this magnetic recorder can tape up to three minutes at a time, for a total of four hours recorded time. Ideal to keep track of to do lists and phone calls. <a href="http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/ereading/devices/Play-Video-Memo-Pad-Green/846654001273-item.html" target="_hplink">Play Video Memo Pad</a>, from $49.99, Indigo Books & Music.
Mark Your Territory
No matter how hard your kid tries to be unique, it's inevitable that other children in their class will have items that are at least slightly similar, so end the confusion before it starts with cute labels that show off exactly who everything belongs to. <a href="http://www.mabelslabels.com/products/ultimate+back+to+school+combo" target="_hplink">Ultimate Back-To-School Combo</a> of over 100 labels, $42, Mabel's Labels.
A solid backpack is the cornerstone of the school year -- after all, how else can kids get their books, laptop, gym clothes and everything else to school and back safely? Make them proud to wear one every day with a cool pattern like this -- and don't forget <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/13/kids-backpacks-safety_n_1772750.html?utm_hp_ref=quick-study" target="_hplink">the essentials of saving your child's back</a>. <a href="http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Packs/SchoolBags/PRD~5028-200/deuter-giga-daypack.jsp" target="_hplink">Deuter Giga Daypack</a>, $78, Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Plaid For Her
Plaid can work for both genders -- check on this prettier take on the pattern in a comfy padded bag. <a href="http://" target="_hplink">Athletic Works Backpack,</a> $19, Walmart.
We all know writing things down is a surefire way to help get them done -- and we think that goes doubly when they're on such a great-looking surface. <a href="http://www.seejanework.com/productcart/pc/Bamboo-Desktop-Dry-Erase-Board-102p4125.htm" target="_hplink">Bamboo Desktop Dry-Erase Board</a>, $14(US), See Jane Work.
Stainless In Any Size
Keeping kids hydrated is a whole task in itself, so find some inducement in the form of cute and colourful stainless steel water bottles -- in a size (and pattern) that works for them. Get stainless steel bottle from $7.99, Shoppers Drug Mart.
Stored In Style
Just stop emailing those documents to yourself and snag a cute USB key -- they're not only in Star Wars version, but Batman and Hello Kitty too. <a href="http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=&webid=322394&affixedcode=WW" target="_hplink">MIMOBOT Star Wars 4GB USB Flash Drive, C-3PO</a>, $9.98, Staples.
When binders just won't do (and you know the circumstances, like oversized papers and thick packages), these narrow document files are sleek and handy to have around. <a href="http://www.seejanework.com/productcart/pc/Semikolon-Striped-Document-File-150p2942.htm" target="_hplink">Semikolon Striped Document File</a>, $5 each (US), See Jane Work.
It's not quite as simple as a three-digit combination anymore -- these locks in fantastic colours use numbers and letters to create a personalized combo your kid won't forget. <a href="http://www.masterlock.com/product_details/CombinationPadlocks_AssortedColors_Set-Your-OwnCombination_No.1590PrecisionDialCombinationPadlocks/1590D" target="_hplink">Precision Dial Combination Padlocks</a>, $10.95, Master Lock.
Peace, Love And Scissors
What's better than a pair of scissors embossed with pictures of peace signs and flowers? A bright colourful pair of scissors that has all that -- and an anti-bacterial handle to them as well. <a href="http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/pointed-scissors-peace-love-design-with-microban/10028137?trail=SRCH%3Ascissors&fromPLP=true&ancestorID=alldept&searchString=scissors&moduleName=S0011&startSearch=yes&fromSearchBox=true&addFacet=SRCH%3Ascissors#" target="_hplink">Pointed Scissors Peace & Love Design with Microban</a>, $2, Walmart.
Is there an easier way for your kid to find his lunch among all the others than with a monogrammed (and super cute) bag? <a href="http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/lime-colton-lunch-bag/?pkey=cbts-lunch-bags#" target="_hplink">Lime Colton Lunch Bag</a>, $43, Pottery Barn Kids
Bright And Shiny
It can't all be sophisticated cool for back-to-school -- the little ones need places to put papers too, so where better than these super bright binders, complete with zipper? <a href="http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/shape-it-up-zipper-binder-15/10142710?trail=&fromPLP=true&ancestorID=&searchString=&startSearch=&fromSearchBox=&addFacet=" target="_hplink">Shape It Up Zipper Binder</a>, $12, Walmart.