More Ad-Supported Wi-Fi

Tantus Networks announced their intent to roll out 500 free (to venue owners and users) Wi-Fi hotspots in the Chicago are. (See press release). This one will be interesting to watch. Local ad inventory is typically hard to sell due to the cost of the sale as well as the expectations of local advertisers - many of which will expect pay-for-performance models as they will not be satisfied with the placement short of a phone call.

It's one thing to be Google which can integrate local maps and information into their service offering (e.g. free Wi-Fi in San Francisco), and it's another to be selling advertising on splash pages. It will also be hard in the near term to operate a Wi-Fi network with a single stream of revenue (i.e., advertising). That said, most consumers are not willing to pay for public Wi-Fi so ad-supported networks will emerge in one form or another. I think it's more a question of whether ad revenues alone will be enough in the near and long term.


Philly Chooses Earthlink

Philadephia chose Earthlink as a partner to develop and operate its municipal wireless network earlier this week. Either partner would have likely been a good choice, and it's hard to know what went on behind closed doors in the negotiations. In choosing Earthlink as a partner, I think Philadelphia acknowledges that there is a lot of work to do beyond building a network. Experience with customer acquisition, customer service, truck rolls, billing, etc. all must be core competencies for any partner that a city selects.


Google & Ad-Supported Wi-Fi in San Francisco

We wrote a piece on ad-supported Wi-Fi (New Wi-Fi Business Models: Opportunities for Advertisers in Free Hotspots) back in July. We tried to talk to a couple of publications about the possibility, but we had a hard time selling them on the idea - that advertisers might pay for local spots on a public Wi-Fi network. The journalist scheduled several rounds with us to discuss the concept, but eventually gave up because he/she just couldn't imagine it.

Google has now thrown their name in the hat along with 24+ other entities to build/operate a wireless network in San Francisco. See story. Our research shows that the majority of public Wi-Fi users want the service for free. A Wi-Fi network in San Francisco will require a lot of micro revenue streams, cost savings, and perceived benefits by the community to justify the cost. Local advertising can be challenged by a high cost of sales and lack of inventory, but adoption of public Wi-Fi is growing quickly (even if unpaid) and will offer a lot of eyeballs in San Francisco. Will be an interesting story to follow.


Letting Your Cell Phone Loose in a Bar

Reason #1 Not to Let Your Phone Loose

Like many in the wireless industry, I was at CTIA this past week and I attended a number of evening events. At one party at Roe, there was pretty loud music so it was a bit hard to hear. A gentleman walked up to me at the bar while I was waiting for a glass of wine. He began talking to me about his ring tone company. I couldn't hear what he was saying (and now I can't find his business card either), but I did hand over my phone at one point so he could download the application so I could listen later on. Again, couldn't hear anything.

I was working at home today when this voice began to whisper to me. This voice was telling me to answer my phone. Huh? I was thinking who is rude enough to ring me and demand that I answer my phone? and how are they doing that? I answered the phone, but there was a different voice. I told the person (press in the wireless space) on the line that my phone was whispering to me ... I wasn't quite ready to focus on the call as I was so taken back by the voice. Then it all clicked for me as I realized it was a ring tone that someone had loaded on to my phone. He said, "that's funny, I heard music." (his first ring back tone).

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Ring tones on Skype

The guys at Qpass had to explain this one to me twice as I didn't "get" it at first. See article. Then they explained to me that Skype users could purchase ring tones and avatars just like cell phone users. Sounds like a fun idea. I wish my IM could have a bobble-head avatar with it's own ring tone.


Back to Blogging

My fingers are functioning again post-surgery and a month of rest. My wrist is still immobilized and fixed in a funny shape.

I'll be back to blogging.

As a side note, this does not set off the metal detector at airport security. The TSA staff look somewhat horrified as I walked through with no shoes or belt, but with this sticking out of my arm - and the security arch didn't beep.

arm hardware.jpg

whole arm jpg.jpg

PS Not taken with my camera phone this time.


Moment for a Mobile Blog

Broke my wrist playing soccer at the end of last week.

Finger typing is hard as is using the mouse with my left hand.

Until the 20lb splint is removed from my arm this week and I have surgery on my wrist, I will not have full use of my fingers. Blogging will be light until then.

Here is my wrist about two hours after the break.


Imagine that I am looking down at my right wrist with thumb up. With a wrist this crooked, I didn't have to wait long to be admitted once I arrived at the hospital. (My teammates drove me once the game finished.)

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Isn ' t Wi-Fi already free in San Francisco?

San Francisco's mayor Gavin Newsom made a call for proposals for free citywide Wi-Fi yesterday.

Isn't Wi-Fi already free in most of San Francisco? I can see about 16 networks from my flat and about 30 percent of them are open.

I hope they are also planning some interference mitigation initiatives.


Mobile Search: In Search of Revenue? Not Yet

Google's recently announced acquisition of Android is one of many recent acquisitions by large online portals and search engines. They purchased Dodgeball (mobile social networking) last month. AOL announced their acquisition of Wildseed last week. Amp'ed acquired Ninja. The list goes on. There are others yet to be announced.

With all of the acquisitions, there has been a lot of speculation re what is everyone up to? I think it's mostly companies bringing expertise in-house and adding on to existing products. Not speaking specifically to these acquisitions, but there are a lot of small companies that are developing great technology that won't survive as a stand-alone product in a market. Many of these acquisitions are buy vs. build to add to internal arsenal rather than "big" signals of where they are headed more strategically in the market.

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Spiraling Customer Service Costs for Wireless Carriers

I wasn't just short of blog fodder when I phoned Verizon Wireless customer service earlier this week. I had accidentally deleted one of my favorite games (Zuma) while driving and trying to manage my personal profiles. I was trying to stop my subscription to Running of the Bulls now that it's August, and I hit the wrong button. As much as I like Glu, I wasn't ready to pony up a second time for the game. I also wanted to get web service so that I could check out some location services and some photo/mobile blogging services.

I dial Verizon Customer service. (one of two programmed speed dials on my phone.)

Customer Service "How can I help you?"
Julie "Well, I have a list ..."
CS (Still in a friendly voice) "What can I help you with?"
Julie "First, I deleted one of my favorite games. Can you give me a credit on my bill so that I can buy it again without having to pay twice?"

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