The EU has been tougher on monopolies than the American antitrust authorities. This has been good for Europe and bad for America. In Europe we have an amazing choice of fixed line internet providers for example. In the USA, there is generally one DSL provider and one Cable provider per territory. As a result, we have more bandwidth for less money. This is surprising because, in general, there is more choice at a better price for a lot of goods and services in the USA, including cars, banking and financial services, gadgets, etc. But the problem with the USA is that sometimes lobbying is more influential than the common good. In Europe, our career public servants seem to be less immune to lobbying (although not always, and banking, for example, seems to be an exception and most countries protect their local banks).
But recently, the EU has given us more choice in Europe. This time is the freedom to choose our browser. But as this survey shows most Europeans, around three quarters of them, are not aware of this choice. It turns out that Spain is the country with the lowest browser choice awareness in Europe.
This week we had a chance to visit Puerto Rico for the first time. We were in Culebra, not great, in Vieques, amazing, in Old San Juan which beats La Habana, and then came the rest of PR, the great and the ugly. The great is the interior of Puerto Rico, as you can see in the pictures below, it is beautiful and authentic. Ugly is the coastline of Puerto Rico. Ugly in the sense that it is all franchised. It is so fast food, gas station, double lane roads and intersections with big traffic lights, that you would not guess you are in Puerto Rico, unless of course, you are from Puerto Rico and know what it looks like. But the interior of the island, not easily accessible, is really nice, lost in time. Places like Maracao, where we had lunch, are so withdrawn from the Burger King odor of rest of the island that you think you are somewhere else. Indeed as we ate a simple but great meal in the general store, we thought that PR could be a great experiment on what fast food does to people. The study would simply consist of studying the average weight of people living in the interior of the island, say Maracao, and contrast it with the average weight of people in Arecibo. And in order for the science to be good, we also have to be open to the possibility that there is actually no difference.
For a CEO of a start up who launches a new product, what just happened to me is very discouraging. I wrote a post about the new Fonera SIMPL that we will soon launch. I mentioned that it is called SIMPL because, as opposed to the Fonera 2.0N, it is not a buffer to the cloud. I was surprised at the amount of extremely negative comments that I got about the quality of the Fonera 2.0N. I am suprised because the reviews we got in blogs like Techcrunch, Wired, Boing Boing and many others are positive. Whereas, the comments that you can see here are extremely negative.
Now the danger of blogs is that the people who are motivated to comment are in general those who are experiencing problems. So if you listen too much to your blog’s comments, you can get very upset as a CEO. So to find out if the level of dissatisfaction expressed in the post about the SIMPL is realistic, I am running a poll among Fonera 2.0N buyers in both my Spanish and English blogs. And in the meantime, I would like to apologize to those who are experiencing problems and say that we are working very hard on a new firmware release. We also offer discounts to Fonera 2.0G buyers to upgrade to Fonera 2.0N, and I am open to any other ideas that the community has. In the meantime, we are getting large orders for the Fonera SIMPL which is just that, simple, an N router that shares some of your bandwidth so you can roam the world for free and make money when others connect to you.
I end by saying that I use the Fonera 2.0N every day of my life, that I am using one now to write this post. I connect my iPhone, Nexus One, and Blackberry to the Fonera 2.0N. The customer care group is, on purpose, right outside of my office, and I just can’t replicate the bugs that people report. In the past, I used to be the first one to find bugs.
The translation from Spanish is this:
The first choice is, while you would like to see improvements in the Fonera 2.0N it is a product you can use.
The second choice is, as the Fonera 2.0N stands now, with the current firmware, you cannot use it.
FON struggled initially in 2009. But we managed a steady turnaround and ended the year with phenomenal results. In September, we reached breakeven and launched a new WiFi device, the Fonera 2.0n. From Q1 to Q4, we increased our monthly gross revenues by 250%, decreased costs by more than 60% and tripled WiFi access. FON now has over one million FON Spots worldwide.
The outlook for FON in 2010 is even better thanks to the ever-increasing demand for WiFi. FON is well positioned, growing strong in several directions, including sales of passes and routers to individuals, and partnerships with fixed and mobile operators.
The FON community is growing because people want more access to free WiFi while roaming, and a superior WiFi experience at home. Our fixed partner list, including BT, ZON TVCABO and Comstar Russia, is growing because operators now clearly understand the importance WiFi and the benefits to partnering with FON. They reduce churn and customer acquisition costs, sell more broadband and increase ARPU. Our mobile partnerships, including E-Plus Group (a division of KPN), SFR and others yet to be disclosed, are growing because operators can offload data traffic. In sum, mobile and fixed operators who partner with FON make more money, reduce costs and get higher valuations than the competition.
Industry players are calling 2010 “the Year of WiFi”. RBS expects WiFi to play a key role in the world of fixed and mobile Telcos and significantly influence their value. For example, E-Plus, our mobile partner in Germany, was the only mobile company not downgraded by RBS for 2010. RBS and Morgan Stanley recently named BT, our major Telco partner in the UK, “Top Pick” for 2010. RBS specified that BT’s partnership with FON (BT FON) put it “in a strong position” and offered it “a great chance to benefit from WiFi.”
Benefits aside, many operators may soon be forced to embrace WiFi out of pure necessity. WiFi is quickly becoming an alternative to mobile data subscription. Demand is increasing rapidly for WiFi-only devices such as the iPod Touch and for WiFi-enabled devices, including smartphones (especially Apple iPhone, Google Android and RIM Blackberry), laptops, notebooks, eBooks, tablets and even TVs. Within three years, mobile networks may become “infill”, useful only between WiFi spots. Within five years, all phones in the US may be smartphones. RBS notes that WiFi progressions like these may very well occur faster than current market estimates due to the enormous cost savings for the customer (up to 50% on a usage-based mobile phone bill) and the influx of WiFi innovation (“smarter” gadgets, faster WiFi signals, value-added services such as voicemail to email, etc.). Finally, attempts to regulate or constrain WiFi growth or VoIP are not expected to stand up to public pressure.
I am calling 2010 “the Year of FON”. Not just because what’s good for WiFi is good for FON and our partners, but based on FON’s record-breaking sales already this January. We sold over 400,000 Foneras SIMPL to an important mobile operator, our largest order in history. We also have several new partners and products in the pipeline.
I predicted the imminent importance of WiFi when I started FON in 2005. Since then, WiFi usage has skyrocketed and FON has become the biggest WiFi community in the world. With no slowdown in sight, 2010 should be the year for both.
RBS: Telecommunications Equity Europe Report, 13 January 2010
Morgan Stanley: Telecommunications Services Industry Review, 4 January 2010
Frost & Sullivan, 2010 Outlook & Forecast: Mobile & Wireless Communications
Pivot shows the advantage that Microsoft may have as the underdog in search
http://getpivot.com/ presented at #TED
Nathan Myrvhold: awesome presentation about using lasers to kill mosquitos, they are about to zap them!
Nathan Myrvhold, at my company we invent for fun and profit, glad that fun comes first because profit has taken a long time.
Many #TED present ideas for USA that are common in Europe: wind energy, solar, and now Gary Lauder with roundabouts
http://yfrog.com/1e15876369j David Byrne presents theory that historically music composition is a function of venue/gadget.
David Byrne on stage at #TED as opposed to other musicians his voice is just like his singing.
Jane #TED designs games about real life problems like “World without oil”, “Global Extinction Awareness System”
Herodotus says games were invented to cope with famine, King said on one day you get to eat, another to play games.
gamers experience urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, epic meaning, gamers are super empowered hopeful individuals???
there are half a billion people in the planet who spend at least an hour playing games
American children spend as many hours going to school as they play gaming, around 10K hours between 6 til 18
Listening to Jane game designer http://bit.ly/cLvvVE describe an “epic win” and saying she wants to see this in real life
The best argument against nuclear energy is that it is used as an excuse by Iran and others for making nuclear weapons.
75% of TED audience favors more nuclear energy to fight climate change
New crime definition “crimes against nature”
TEDx open source TED in your city. TED gives rules and Brand.
Visit freetheslaves.net it explains the sad situation
America is still paying the price of the botched emancipation of 1865, 4m people dumped with no help #TED
Slavery globally is an estimated $40bn business
Most slaves become slaves after being offered fake jobs taken away and then they are imprisoned.
There are 27 million slaves in the world
Anonymous because none of us are as cruel as all of us
Christopher Moot Pole 4chan meme factory lol cats
99% of the #TED audience is in favor of gay marriage
Michael Sandel http://bit.ly/auYJbQ speaking at #TED about the ethics of Justice
Aristotle justice means giving people what they deserve
One of the problems of nuclear weapons is that over time many have been lost when planes carrying them fell into the ocean
For a world without nuclear weapons http://www.globalzero.org/
http://bit.ly/cbHrAE Valerie Plame Wilson outed CIA agent, USA and Russia have 96% of the world’s nuclear weapons #TED
Cheese commercial, unexpected ending #TED :)http://bit.ly/8k6pS9
Connections matter look at how thanks to them carbon can be graphite or diamond.
Cristakis #TED whether your friends know each other have to do with your genes, do you have generous social genes :)?
#TED fascinating work on how obesity is social by Nicholas Cristakis http://digg.com/u1N59N
http://digg.com/d11DUE2 argues that if commodity prices don’t rise it is hard to argue that we are running out of resources
Esther Pisani, condom use down among gay men in developed countries going down and infection up because of antiHIV drugs
Esther Pisani, condom use among sex workers is much higher than among the general population
#TED Esther Pisani to Pope, “if you think giving condoms makes people have sex look at me, I carry condoms and never get laid”
Sam Harris http://www.samharris.org/ #TED We have to admit that there are right and wrong answers in the domain of human flourishing.
Sam Harris, in most of USA it is legal for teachers to physically punish and kids at school.
Sam Harris #TED A rational approach to ethics “in talking about values we are talking about facts, facts ARE related to values”
Michael Specter, Sam Harris, Chris Anderson and many of the speakers at #TED speak against religion, in Europe we mostly ignore it
America is the most religious industralized nation but the most sucessful people in USA who I meet at conferences like TED are like him
Speaker at #TED is arguing that eating meat causes more emissions than transportation, true?
Michael Specter of #denialism we hate big pharma, but we love big placebo (herbs, homeopathy, suplements, etc)
heard at #TED everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I am sorry, they are not entitled to their own facts
At dinner last night Marissa Meyer of Google told me that Buzz targets organizations more than social networks. Makes sense.
Sheryl Crow says at #TED that she is dissapointed with Obama http://twitpic.com/12ibud
Jamie Oliver shows a picture of a king size coffin that is used to bury the obese at #TED
Jamie Oliver chef activist points out that we are the first generation to live less than our parents #TED
TED talks have been viewed 200 million times on Youtube, my youtube martinvars only 1 million 😉
Learning about Blippy the twitter for your credit card…not for me!
http://www.skeptic.com/ americans are believing people thus this magazine
Michael Shermer on how we are programmed to believe. Google him http://yfrog.us/ekfcfz
http://www.povertyactionlab.com/ remarkable work
We can use randomized controlled trials for not just to test medicines but for social problems.
When a politician speaks you have to know that in this world of deficits he will not have the $ to deliver. Cameron.
JFK “GDP measures everything except what makes life worthwhile”
David Cameron: the best way for people to cut energy consumption is to show them what their neighbors spend.
http://yfrog.com/3g1i3cj David Cameron conservative at #TED uses socialist fist and power to the people slogan
David Cameron: politics now is about how to make things better without spending more money, cause we dont have more money.
David Cameron at TED politics is like show biz with ugly people.
Gallup Poll: Americans who make less than 60K per year are unhappy. But those who make more and more r not proportionately happier.
Memories are the leftovers of experience
Daniel Kahneman people confuse experience with memory.
Keith Ferrazzi, a great way to connect to others is to be of service
How do children become suicide bombers? A documentary http://digg.com/u1Myfs Director speaking at TED now.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” Einstein
As a conference TED is an a great art gallery, Davos a museum. Both are relevant but TED has the new art.
If you care about getting followers watch this http://digg.com/d1t77t
Derek Siver followers are what transforms a lone nut into a leader, key is to treat your first followers as equals, they get you others
Jennifer McCrea, life itself is work in progress
Danny Sullivan at #TED explains how Flash is not “seen” by Google, when you use Flash add title tags
at #TED Suzie Katz when you take a picture think of the story behind the picture
#TED is like speed dating of the mind
Peugeot and American Movil launch first WiFi car with 3G to WiFi conversion built in http://bit.ly/9eLWN6
This is how TED University looks like http://yfrog.com/3ikmzj
Jessica Green at TED says that we spend 90% of our life indoors
Kevin Stone presented at #TED on biologic as opposed to bionic implants. Cows and pig knees on humans r coming.
#TED just heard Daniel Kraft speak on the future of medicine. I hope he is right.
This week, FON will unveil the newest Fonera WiFi device at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Visit us at booth 2EZ19. The new Fonera SIMPL features the speed of 802.11n, a powerful, detachable antenna increasing reach, sleek design and tiny enclosure. It will be available to the public in May for 39€ and will give users easy, fast and affordable access to the world’s largest WiFi community.
The FON network is growing fast. We surpassed 1 million hotspots in December 2009 and we continue to add close to 100,000 new FON Spots each month. This growth comes from our users who activate their Foneras and from our partners, including BT, ZON Portugal, SFR, and Comstar Russia, who build FON functionality into their own WiFi routers.
Now, with the Fonera SIMPL, we have developed an even better WiFi device. We named it SIMPL for two reasons. First, because it has only FON’s core functionality of creating two WiFi signals – one for public and one for private use. It does not have any of the Fonera 2.0n features. Second, because we are working on a series of improvements to make the registration and connection process with mobile devices as simple as possible. Yesterday, WiFi was all about laptops. The future of WiFi is all about e-books, tablets and smartphones. We are working to optimize the FON experience on these devices.
The target group for the Fonera SIMPL is individuals who want to join the FON community by buying a great WiFi router. But we’re also distributing this Fonera to mobile operators who will bundle it with their smartphones to help offload 3G traffic. We have distributed test models already to mobile operators and they like it.
Here’s a sneak peek…
It all depends. Here are my ratings. This is a work in progress. But you get the idea. Maybe you don’t agree with them. Maybe you would add more categories. I have not tested any models lately with Symbian, with Windows Mobile, so they are not on the chart. For the Twitter category, Blackberry is also with Seesmic – I forgot to put it in the chart.
Results: Seesmic in the Blackberry is just super fast even though it looks better in Android. But the iPhone with Tweetdeck is also incredibly good, love the email the tweet feature. I forgot to include roaming charges. Blackberry wins that contest because it has compression. With the other two don’t even try. Get a PeekFON instead. We already pre-sold all the ones we have. But we will get more in 90 days or less. The PeekFON would be a clear loser in the quality competition. It’s not really a smartphone. But if you want affordable email without roaming charges no one can beat it. 30 euros for the PeekFON itself and 12,9 euros per month all the email you can eat anywhere in Europe, Australia, New Zeland and hopefully soon USA as well. PeekFON is work in progress.
It took Fon almost four years to sell half a million WiFi routers known as Foneras. But in the last 2 months we have received orders for another half a million. This is because mobile operators have changed their view vis-à-vis WiFi. They see WiFi not as a threat anymore, but as a great add-on to 3G, to do the heavy duty work of downloading. Mobile operators know that WiFi cannot really compete with 3G in terms of mobility and that people will continue to want both 3G and WiFi, and will be willing to pay for both.
WiFi improves customer experience and saves CAPEX on a Smartphone when people are at home or in the office. Smartphones don’t need WiFi for email or Twitter, low bandwidth apps. But Smartphones do need WiFi when they become entertainment centers, when they are used to watch TV Series, stream video, stream music. And that is also when Smartphones become real burdens for 3G networks. Think of this, an N router nowadays has as much capacity as a cell tower, less range of course but at cost of $100 vs. $200,000. Here’s an article from the BBC that explains the problem that 02 is having with the iPhone.
With FON people autoconnect their Smartphone at home and also offer 20% of their bandwidth to others who may capture the same signal while at home visiting or nearby through walls and windows. So with FON, Smartphones get coverage at home and at other homes or offices with our Fonera routers. In certain countries, like the UK, FON has a venture together with BT, known as BT FON that has close to a million hotspots. That is great coverage and our network is becoming more and more valuable to mobile operators who want to complement 3G with WiFi.
But in order to preserve the ecosystem, and not go against fixed operators, FON is not free to those who don’t donate bandwidth. FON has a rule, “you share a little WiFi at home and you roam for free”, but if you don’t share you have to pay. In this way, FON has solved the leeching problem that free wifi networks have. As great as Free WiFi networks are, they never really took off because there are many more takers than people who offer WiFi. Also frankly, if they would take off, they would destroy most of the fixed telecom industry. With Fon there is a balance. To take you have to give. So people continue to buy fixed broadband services from companies like BT, ZON, Comstar, Neuf and other partners of ours. So in this telco/consumer ecosystem FON helps consumers, but also promotes fixed and mobile bandwidth. This is why FON has in its capital structure, telcos like BT and consumer internet companies like Google.
Here’s a video in which I try to make this point 🙂