Luxury home sales soar, condos get connected & new wireless rules: Business Week Wrap
If the idea of a home that's completely connected to your smartphone in every way is your idea of heaven, it was a good week for you as Samsung and a Toronto condo developer unveiled what they hope the home of tomorrow will look like.
Developer Canderel Residential has broken ground on a 66-storey condo development in downtown Toronto that, when it opens in 2017, will offer something unique to the owners of all 634 suites.
It'll be the first high-rise tower in Canada that will offer all amenities completely connected to your smartphone. Want to call the elevator? Just swipe. Unlock the door and turn on the lights? Use your phone. How about taking a video peek at your condo while you're away — yes, there's an app for that.
Individually, all components of the technology have already existed for years and are fairly commonplace in Asia. But it's believed the Toronto site will be the first one in Canada to incorporate them all so fully, and so seamlessly
But as Aaron Saltzman discovered in his report this week, critics say the connected home does raise troubling questions about privacy, security and vulnerability.
Mansion market booming
A condo development might be an ideal guinea pig for that sort of high-end technological experiment, but it certainly isn't the only part of the luxury real estate market making headlines this week.
Realty group Sotheby's put out a report on Monday showing sales are soaring in the luxury real estate market — homes valued at $1 million and above.
In Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa, bubble concerns don't seem to be slowing down buyers at all, as many cities are seeing double-digit sales increases for homes above the million-dollar level. And the homes that are selling are increasingly going for a lot higher than the asking price.
It's no secret that Canadians are real estate obsessed. But as eye-popping numbers out of Sotheby's showed, it isn't just people at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale who are obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses.
Latest crackdown on telecom Big Three
In Ottawa, the federal government laid out some new details this week about another national obsession — high cellphone prices. On Monday, Industry Minister James Moore unveiled Ottawa's latest plan to introduce more competition to Canada's wireless market, and the new rules sound more determined than ever to break the Big 3 telecom oligopoly and see the elusive fourth national wireless carrier take hold.
To do that, Ottawa's going to hold aside a big chunk of wireless spectrum in the next auction, to make sure the Big 3 can't get their hands on it. They're also going to restrict the transfer of that spectrum, and simplify the auction process to make sure new players have what Ottawa calls "a clear path to sustainability."
If this all sounds familiar, it's probably because Ottawa's already made those concessions before, in previous wireless auctions. And save for a few startups with regional coverage and somewhat shaky finances, very little has changed to break up the stranglehold by the telecom giants after those auctions, as the Big 3 still control more than 90 per cent of the industry.
But with Wind Mobile's Russian owners sabre-rattling about wanting to pull out of Canada and Quebecor making noises about wanting to jump in, perhaps these changes really will be the ones that bring that fourth national wireless player to life.
Ken's turn to stay at home
Speaking of breathing new life into things, toy conglomerate Mattel had a launch in Toronto for the latest iteration of its iconic Barbie doll. And for her 150th profession, Barbie has finally decided to stop working for The Man.
Entrepreneur Barbie, launched this week, is still a perky, blonde white woman with an impossible body type, of course. But she's ditched the swimsuit, toy baby and Corvette, and now Entrepreneur Barbie comes ready to get to work with a briefcase, suit, tablet and smartphone.
The company is backing up the branding gimmick with real cash — up to $2,500 to help fund young entrepreneurs with good business ideas of their own. But critics argued the event was just a marketing stunt that ultimately trivializes the real issues faced by women in the workplace.
Those are just a few of our more popular stories this week. Check back with us often for the latest business news at CBCNews.ca/business, and follow our Twitter feed here.