In America sex is obscene. In Europe money is obscene. In America burping and farting demand and excuse. In Europe they are ignored out of deep sense of embarrassment. In America 80% of the people consider themselves religious, in Europe 20%. With this background, how does FON communicate it´s message?

Well first let´s list the messages that FON wants to communicate.

The first BIG advantage of FON is that with FON there´s WiFi everywhere. This is the image we found to communicate this message.

wifif.JPG

Some Europeans found it disgusting. Most Americans found it funny. We went for it and as this review shows, at least in America, it worked.

The second BIG advantage of FON is that while millions of people leave their wifi routers open around the world in doing so they are exposing themselves to viral infections, criminal abuse, terrorist abuse, to many “bad” people in the world open wifi is a blessing. So what FON wants to say to all those people who share wifi is that now there is a SAFE, non anonymous way to share wifi. Now here we are stalled. Europeans are saying that the best analogy to communicate this is to distribute condoms that say FON, plug and play…safely. For Europeans the meaning is obvious, safe sex, safe sharing, safe wifi. For Americans they say giving condoms to people under 18 is a problem and they seem to have a problem with condoms in general. So we are undecided on how to communicate this. Personally I don´t see a better analogy than safe sex here but I understand that we may just have to drop this one for the Puritan mentality of the USA. In America instead what may work is an analogy tied to medication. For example FON´s approved for Safety, Have FON.

The third BIG advantage of FON for some foneros, namely the Bill foneros the ones whose aim is not to share but to make money is that one, making money. Now in America those who want to make money have no problem in saying so. I want to make money, show me the money, where´s the money. In Europe this is not that simple. Speaking in public in Europe I have asked the question of who would like to be a Bill Fonero and very few raise their hand. Most want to be Linus. Europe has Bills but it has more Linuses. America has more Bills. In any case for Bills we have found an image that seems to please both Europeans and Americans and it´s this one.

milk your wifi.jpg

The fourth BIG advantage of FON is community building. In March FON will launch a software upgrade what will allow foneros around the world to build neighborhood LANs or a parallel internet we call the INTERFON. Basically what will happen is that our software will enable routers to seek each other out and if they find they can build direct links between them they will avoiding the regular internet altogether and sending packets through the interfon. This is great for neighbors who want to communicate very fast. For example one neighbor just returned from a trip to Africa and has 100 megs of pictures to send out, with direct wifi connectivity at 54 megs sending them is a breeze. So they connect directly, not through the internet but through the interfon. So how do we communicate this?

Here the analogy that works best is the religious analogy. The one of the church, the temple, the congregation. What FON is doing is creating a congregation of neighbors who can communicate in better ways and personally I would like to use this analogy for our communications. Build a FON congregation means get your neighbors to download our software and communicate with them directly in a more private, secure, certainly faster way than through the internet. ISPs by they way would love this cause their clients still pay (if not they can´t be foneros) but they take the heaviest traffic off their networks. At these congregations foneros can play games, exchange files (those that are legal to exchange), videoconference, and whatever activities they may want to do inside the congregation. They can of course also communicate with the rest of the world, and so do people who are in congregations, but inside the congregation the communication is more natural, faster, meaningful. But is this concept going to be well received in Europe? Here we have the opposite problem than with the sex analogy, using terminology normally reserved for religions while allowing us to explain the concept may turn people off. Here the solution may be to revert to the animal kingdom. Current WiFi users would be portrayed as Lone Wolves and with FON they are happy wolves…in a pack. The concept of meshing or LAN could be simplified by using the analogy of a pack of wolves.

So we got the toilet, we got the cow, and maybe we will have to leave sex and religion analogies out of our message and go for the medication and pack of wolves!

In the meantime…where do Asia, Africa, Latam, the rest of the world fit into this? It´s tough to build a global message!

When I look at the two internet companies I admire the most in the world, Google and Skype I see that they have opted for simplicity as their global solution. But then there messages are more succint One is “search feeling lucky” and the other is “talk for free”. With us the messages are more complex, But we are getting there.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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german fonerofan on January 28, 2006  · 

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