Today during a brainstorming session at Fon, David Garcia from customer care had an idea that we are likely going to implement for the Fonera 2.0 but that could in theory be expanded to many other gadgets. It is the concept of gadgets twitting themselves. Why would you want to get twits from a gadget? I know the idea sounds absurd at first but the Fonera 2.0 has a lot of things to twit about. The Fonera 2.0 is a social WiFi router that manages your relationship with the Web 2.0. If the Web 2.0 is all about user generated content (you can wake up now) then the Fonera 2.0 is about managing the transfer of that content. The Fonera 2.0 uploads your pictures to Facebook, Picasa, and/or Flickr, it downloads your files from Rapidshare and Megaupload, it uploads and downloads your torrents, it uploads your videos to Youtube, it offers a little extra bandwidth to your neighbors or people who pass by your home or office, it converts 3G signal to WiFi signal and it does all those things while your computer is off. On its own. So for a gadget that does a lot of things on its own but does not have a keyboard or a screen Twitting makes a lot of sense. Possible twits are “i just gave some bandwidth to a fonero”, “uploading pictures to Flickr”, “finished downloading torrent”, “finished sending 553 MB HD video to youtube”,”3G to Wifi conversion now on”, etc, etc, etc. In the case of the Fonera 2.0 twitter saves us from having a graphics card, a screen, a keyboard, many weird lights that mean all sorts of different things. But if that is what Twitter can do for the Fonera 2.0 imagine what it could do for many other gadgets: “your turkey is ready”, “your garden´s watered”, “your pool needs chlorine”, “you are running low on oil”…
Yesterday BT, who is a fixed and mobile operator who owns its fixed network and resells GSM/3G services made an announcement that explains why it makes sense for BT, SFR, Zon and many other operators to team up with Fon. As the review that I quote says:
£15.65pm is all it now takes to secure an 8Mbit home connection plus a 7.2Mbit HSDPA capable dongle with 1GB monthly data allowance. BT claims the combo provides savings of more than £125 per year compared to current alternatives from the likes of Vodafone and Orange and from my calculations (let me know if you find out differently) that seems about right.
Now how is it that BT can offer such an amazing deal in which for only around $20 per month it can offer both ADSL and HSDPA? The answer is thanks to the amazing WiFi network that it built together with Fon that is known as BT Fon. HSDPA is good but it has two drawbacks, it is slower than WiFi and it comes with throughput limitations. So BT has developed a great technology whereby its USB dongles look for WiFi first and then HSDPA. And because together with us now BT has hundreds of thousands of WiFi points chances are that WiFi will be mostly available except situations in which the customer is in a car or somewhere away from densely populated areas. BT has made this a part of its margin calculations and it can therefore offers that are so much cheaper than Vodafone and Orange.
I found Benjamin Button, the film, obnoxiously boring. But I loved the short story by F Scott Fitzgerald that the movie is (not) based on. I read it today on my new Kindle, a device that is making me read again. Thank you Jeff Bezos. I used to read a lot but since the ’90s the combination of active parenting and the Internet slowed my book reading to a crawl. Yet today, I was taking Friday afternoon off in Menorca, and had the new Kindle at hand. Being a fan of free content I went to ManyBooks.net and found The Curious Life of Benjamin Button, the story as one of the most downloaded books. I went on to download the story because even though I had been terribly disappointed by the movie, I could not believe that the author of The Great Gatsby, had written a character that was as dull as the one portrayed by Brad Pitt. And I was right. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which I encourage you to download here is funny, original, and if it had been expanded into a well scripted movie it would have had all the elements of excitement that the soporific movie directed by David Fincher does not have. What surprised me the most is how is it that a movie that has nothing, and I mean nothing to do with the story plot, can still be said to be that story turned into a film. Think of the many books you read turned into movies and after you read the story you will see how fundamental the differences in the plot between the two are. In any case I am sorry if you are one of the many who loved the movie. I guess we just don´t need to agree.
I understand Technorati, for example, when it gives me real time searches of what people are saying about the Fonera 2.0. I understand the fact that a blog search engine should find what people who are blogging say about our new router, the Fonera 2.0. And, that information is very useful to us at Fon (disclosure I am an investor in Technorati). But, what blows my mind is that I can now see what people on Twitter are saying about the Fonera as well. Because a blogger, well she/he wants to be heard. But a person communicating to his friends in Twitter, is she/he aware that whatever one says is public and searchable? I wonder to what extent all users know that whatever they say to their friends the whole world can read (unless they set Twitter only to communicate with their friends but few do so)? And if they do understand this, then Twitter is one more proof that most people don´t give a damn about privacy. Now for businesses, Technorati and Twitter are an amazing combination for gaging popular sentiment after a product launch and for reacting immediately to any problem that may arise. We at Fon are constantly following early sentiment on the Fonera 2.0. Fortunately, so far as you can see doing your searches, it is extremely positive.
Andorra is the country with the highest life expectancy in the world. I did not know this when I recently had dinner with the country´s Prime Minister, Albert Pintat. Andorra is small but it´s not the Vatican. It has 80,000 very well off people with a GDP of close to $3bn. It is a beautiful mountain country between France and Spain. During our dinner we spoke about creating a regime attractive to IT companies and we were talking about how to promote Andorra in the world. Longevity though was not part of our conversation. I think it´s a nice record to have.
As you can see in these 62 different articles gathered by Google News, BT, Fon´s exclusive partner in the UK, won access to all Starbucks locations (more than 650 Starbucks coffeehouses in the UK and Ireland). Unfortunately this does not mean free access to all foneros around the world for wifi at Starbucks UK, but it does mean free access for Foneros who are also BT Broadband customers. And for the rest, we are working on a lower Fonero discount. We will keep you informed. We also wanted UK foneros to know that we are trying to see how we can legally sell the Fonera 2.0 in the UK.
I would like to share what’s been said in blogs and media since we announced the Fonera 2.0 launch. The reviews are very positive and early sales are strong. But selling a lot of hardware without advertising is close to a miracle. Especially in the midst of a global crisis. So let´s hope the word of mouth after our first deliveries is enough to sustain the sales. The articles are in the languages I understand.
Wired, boing boing, PR News, Gearlog, dv-depot, pc mag, Endgadget, Gizmologia, Gizmología again, Zdnet, Canard WiFi, Hoy Teconología, Oss Blog, UNIVERS FREEBOX, Mac4Ever, Harakiwi, Planet Sansfil, Francofon, Minitosh, MacBidouille, Presence-PC, LordPhoenix’s Blog, i974, Infracom Online, ICWS, keneto.net, Perfil.com, Frageek, Clubic, Francofon, Harakiwi, mrboo, Fredzone, Brico-WiFi, Couleur Geek, Gonzague, GreenIT, Zicmama’s Blog, Netbook 3G, Webtuga, yebo blog, TooLinux, Soy Plastic, Il Bloggatore, BandaAncha, Xataca, País Cambiante
During our last trip to Morocco which resulted in our engagement, Nina and I both took Netbooks. She took her fancy MacBookAir. I took the MSI Wind that my friends had turned into an amazing triple combo of Mac, plus Ubuntu, plus Windows XP.
Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but thanks to a special install by some friends, this 400 euros machine runs all three operating systems. And on top of that the battery lasted over twice as much as the MacBook Air, it has 3 USB ports instead of one and for pictures it had a great SD slot that of course Apple would never install because it would ruin its hardware aesthetics. In the desert climate, with a rare connection to electricity, frequent dust and sand, the MSI Wind performed like a star. Why am I telling you this?
Because when I shared my enthusiasm with Jordi Vallejo, from Fon, he told me that the managers at MSI Wind loved Fon and it turned out that this was the case cause they loved the idea of doing a Fonera 2.0 / MSI Wind bundle which we launched today in France, Italy and Spain with more countries coming soon.
Basically, we are selling both the MSI Wind and the Fonera 2.0 for only 379 euros introductory price. I hope you like the MSI Wind as much as I do, because it has become my portable computer of choice beating not only the MacBook Air, but all the other netbooks I tested including the Dell Mini and the Asus EeePC. Here´s the link to order the bundle in Spain.
I would also like to share with you what the blogs say about the Fonera. And for technical questions I recommend you read this.
My Spanish blog is more active than my English blog but this does not mean that I don´t praise, criticism and trolls in my English blog as well. Throughout Fon´s short history, unfortunately, critics and trolls have been partly right when they say that Fon has not delivered on its promise to build a global WiFi network. Yes, we do have 360K Fonspots now but other than in Japan which is the only country in the world in which we have succeeded without installing our software inside the wifi router of telecom operators in other countries where we have been very successful, like UK or France we did this together with BT, Neuf in France, Zon in Portugal.
Why were we not able to grow at a rhythm higher than 4000 Foneras a month more solely on the premise of “share a little wifi at home and roam the world for free”? I would say it was a chicken and egg problem. With BT we truly were able to say that you share a little WiFi at home and roam the UK for free as with them we deployed so many fonspots at once that coverage in that promise and delivery were very well linked. Especially because if you are both a BT customer and a Fonero you get to roam for free in BT OpenZone as well, BT´s commercial offer available at airports, train stations, etc. But in other countries, like Spain where we don´t have an operator we exist thanks to the altruism of some (Linuses) and the desire to amortize the cost of a DSL connection (Bills) but coverage is spotty. Same in Germany were we are still the largest WiFi network but that is not enough to speak of having a real presence in which you can predictably find Fon as you can in Japan or UK.
So what we did to make it more attractive for Foneros to buy a Fonera is to make the Fonera itself very appealing. We greatly improve the Fonera 1.0 and the result is the Fonera 2.0 which goes for sale in Europe tomorrow. The Fonera 1.0 is a great router to share WiFi and to make money selling passes to the Fon community. But the Fonera 2.0 does that and much more. Examples? It downloads your torrents without your computer being on (ONLY DOWNLOAD CONTENT WHOSE RIGHTS PLEASE). It downloads files from Rapidshare and Megaupload. It uploads your videos to Youtube without your computer being on. It uploads pictures to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr. It converts your many times useless 3G signal into WiFi so you can use game consoles and other devices that need internet but don´t come with 3G. It connects your printers via WiFi, or your webcam, and there is more coming.
With the Fonera 2.0 we are convinced that our deployment rate will accelerate and with a combination of Foneras and telco routers we will deliver on the coverage.
In this video I compare the Fonera to the Time Capsule of Apple and show that in a sense, the Fonera is to the Time Capsule what the iPhone is to a mobile phone.
What I like about Joshua Cooper Ramo’s book, The Age of The Unthinkable is that it it starts with the premise that complexity in world affairs is here to stay. Maybe it is Joshua’s background in physics that has made him see foreign policy as an area where Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle also applies. That in human affairs also we can never know where things stand that we can only speak in terms of probability. That when we oversimplify, our policies backfire and we end up in the “Age of the Unthinkable” where financial markets, world peace, the environment all blow up in our face. So who are the winners in this era? A minority of unlikely candidates that range from Sergey and Larry at Google to China as a nation, to Hezbollah as an organization. The losers however seem to be mostly in the USA, Europe and elsewhere and are those who stick to simplistic models (i.e. Bush Cheney Middle East approach) and fail to tackle the diversity of inputs that may lead to a certain outcome. A good example of Ramo’s challenge of the status quo is criticism of Joseph Nye´s soft power theory. Soft Power theory says that if the “enemy” likes our culture he will stop being our enemy. As Ramo shows it is possible for terrorists to listen to our music, watch our movies, dress like us and still….want to blow us up. And what makes the book more interesting is that Ramo’s past as the Foreign Editor of Time Magazine made him meet many “despicable” characters such as the head of information of Hezbollah and, surprisingly, learn from them. In a style similar to that of President Obama, he shows us how talking to the enemy and learning from the enemy can be a better strategy than spending trillions trying and failing to destroy it. But before getting carried away here is my advice: Buy the book and come up with your own opinion. It’s worth it.