Fon will launch in Japan and Korea. I am going to be in Tokyo and Seoul on the week of April 10th to announce the fonero teams that we have been able to assemble. My partners and Fon board members Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis will also be in the region that week and we may be able to do some presentations together. Their company, Skype has taken off very nicely in the area. As we prepare Fon in Japan and Korea I have been studying the broadband markets in those countries and they are absolutely fascinating for Fon. Presently the EU has around 65 million broadband connections, USA 60 million, and Japan and Korea combined have around 50 million. But the EU has around 450 million people, USA around 300 million and Japan and Korea combined have around 175 million people. Japan and Korea are broadband wonders. Why? I can think of many reasons. Densely populated areas are easier to supply with broadband, very fair income distribution makes it such that all can afford broadband, extremely well educated populations have an easier time getting on line and a greater interest to do so. Now what can Fon bring those countries? A true broadband wireless network with way more throughput than any of the existing wireless networks they have deployed today. If you are from Japan or Korea and would like to contact me ahead of this visit please do so through my blog.
Here´s an example of a WiFi Networks screen captured near the home of Alberto, a fonero.
At Fon we believe that most urban centers in the developed world now have a wifi coverage and that as Fon becomes widely adopted we will organize some of this signal to build a global wifi network that will be free for Foneros and will cost $2 per day for Aliens (Aliens in Fon are users of WiFi who do not contribute WiFi). As of today we already had 26,000 foneros and 2500 registered Aliens. Some Fon critics have argued that there is not enough coverage in urban centers in developed countries. We think the contrary is true, that there are now too many wifi networks in many places. Personally I would be very grateful if readers could capture screens like this and send them to me at email@example.com. In order to capture a screen you need to do alt + print and then paste the screen onto the e mail and send it to me. If anyone is near a window in an urban center and does not capture any wifi signal I would love to know where that spot is. It would be the first open spot without signal that we hear about! At Fon we have not been able to find any densely populated area in developed countries without WiFi signal. We are also trying to understand the proportion of locked vs open networks available. Lastly we are in conversation with companies who can supply a client for us that automatically signs up foneros to Fon networks so we won´t need to first choose a Fon network and then sign up for it.
I got the latest report on fonero figures. As you can see Spain is about to lose its first place in the fonero movement. A month ago Spain was beating USA by a 4 to 1 margin. On one side I am sorry to see that our home country losing global leadership. On the other I am impressed that before we appear in US shops, in the US web sites of our partners, before we have a signed deals with any US telcos, that there´s still so much interest for Fon in the United States and all coming out of our own web site www.fon.com. UK is also pretty impressive as we don´t yet have marketing presence in the UK. Another surprising element to me is that I thought that the Bill model was going to be particularly successful in the US and the UK while the Linus modality was going to be more prevalent in Continental Europe but we have not even started the Bill model yet and these are the results. I guess there are a lot of Linuses in America, they just don´t seem to win elections 😉
A few months ago I met Netvibes founder, Tariq Krim during Les Blogs. Not only was I fond of Tariq personally, but I also loved his website. It was at that time that Tariq became a FONero and a Advisory Board member in France. Now I have reciprocated. Yesterday, together with Pierre Chappaz, founder of Kelkoo and ex head of Yahoo Europe and Marc Andressen, founder of Netscape, Opsware and Ning (and to clarify – both Pierre and Marc are collaborators as well as investors in FON) I invested in Netvibes.
Netvibes already has more than a million users. Basically what Netvibes does is put together in one page all the blogs, information sources and other tools that you use regularly. The file that I include below is called OPML. It’s interesting because it shows my own personal page of all the information I look at regularly. As you will see, the majority are in English, some are in Spanish and in French. For me the interesting thing about sharing OPML archives is that they’re the best way to find out what kind of information other people are interested in. Of course in my own there are important sources and sites missing – it’s impossible to have them all – but I would welcome suggestions on additional information/sites that would be worth adding..
If you’ve read up to here and have not gained an understanding of Netvibes, I suggest you chat with friends who understand what RSS is and how Netvibes works. I recognize that it may not be for everyone.
Only a few days ago we mentioned that we had free routers to give away to people in the EU who were facing busy streets. In the past I had metioned that Italians did not seem to be interested in becoming foneros. Now that situation seems to have been completely reversed. In my flickr post you can see how many requests we got from Italy.
You can see the different locations here. But while Italians were the majority we also got requests from Germany, France and other countries. We will be sending those routers in 2 weeks as soon as we get the next deliveries from Linksys who are somewhat delayed.
We are now working on designing our own router. Our plan is to stop subsidizing the Linksys router and, instead, make a deal with Linksys (or their competitors) by which you will find Fon ready routers in the shops of Europe and North America. Instead at Fon we will have our own router designed by us and sold on our web site.
These are some ideas for our own designs. These are outdoor designs and, of course, they are weatherproof.
I had a post concerning Netvibes that I was asked to delay posting until tomorrow. I apologize if there are any links to this post of comments.
Today I visited ArtParis. While not a fanatic I do collect art. ArtParis, like Arco in Madrid, is one of those large shows in which the world´s art galleries get together and show their latest acquisitions in the hope of selling some paintings. After watching the thousands of works brought by many galleries from around the world one thing stood up and that is how little artists or buyers of their work seem to care today about the problems of the world. The destruction of the planet, wars, poverty, sickness, were totally absent from the themes chosen by the artists represented at ArtParis. While art would be pretty unbearable if it ONLY focused on human failures. it is certainly running the risk of becoming irrelevant if none of it does. In any case here are some pictures of what I saw at the Grand Palais today. As I found most of the art boring I started taking pictures of the building itself, which is magnificent, and some people I liked.
If you live anywhere in the European Union where you face a busy street and would like to become a Bill or Linus fonero (Bills make 1 euro per user who connects to their network per day and Linuses don´t make money but get to roam the Fon network for free, both only share up to 50% of their bandwidth) please send Fon an e-mail with the view from your window (we will publish the best pictures) and your address and Fon will likely ship you a free wifi router. The offer is valid for the first 100 requests. I am also happy to report that as of today we are current with all our European orders and have at most a 48 hour delay in shipping. We are not however current in our American orders and we apologize for that. We hope to become current by the end of the month. In typical start up fashion we underestimated the demand we would have in the States. USA is now neck to neck with Spain as our number one country in the world by number of foneros. If you live in the States though and would like to send us a picture of your streetview, we will keep them for when we do a similar promotion for the States.
After the great news of having signed our second large ISP in Europe we have been meeting with US Cable operators. The meetings have been quite positive. Our proposition to these players is simple. We show them how with Fon they can increase ARPU (payments from Aliens increase their revenues per connection), reduce churn (clients who travel frequently now keep the service because they pay at home and use it everywhere), increase customer satisfaction (service is delivered with wifi and customer pays same rates but gets free global roaming), reduce leeching by non paying customers (Fon is shared for free only among paying customers of ISPs) and become quasi mobile and eventually with software upgrade mobile operators (their plant has very thorough coverage and with 802.11n or MIMO the range would end up in ubiquitous signal). Moreover since Fon is a global proposition with Fon US Cable operators many of which are very local become part of a global network. I am confident that in less than 120 days we will be able to announce deals similars to the ones we are making in Europe in the States.