The new strategy of the tech giants in USA is to make a living of what is unique about your company and give the competitor’s key product away for free.

Google does this to Microsoft with Office, Amazon does this to Netflix with free movies for prime customers, Google does this to Facebook with Google+ which surprisingly has no ads, Google does this to Apple with Android, Google does this to Microsoft/Skype with Google Talk, Amazon does not give the Kindle Fire for free but it is going after Apple with iPad at a huge discount. Now one of the reason’s Apple continues to be the most valuable company in the world is that they don’t give anything away for free!

In October 2007 I had a 90 minutes meeting with Steve Jobs. It was a very special moment in my career. At Fon we were already partners with Google and I had met most of the key actors in the technology world by then but not Steve Jobs. The meeting was not a success. Steve Jobs then told me that Apple was going to do Fon without Fon. I am glad they never did!

More news is coming out now about this initiative that never materialized at Apple.

As you can see I was very cautious about what I said about Steve Jobs then.

Image representing Tariq Krim as depicted in C...
Image by Rsepulveda / flickr via CrunchBase

This morning we had breakfast with my good friend Tariq Krim. Tariq is the founder of Netvibes, an app I use every day to get the internet I care about in one glimpse, and of Jolicloud, the best operating system for the 100 million netbooks out there in the world. In the past, during our meetings, we would speak about Fon and Jolicloud. But lately, Fon has been growing very well and profitably (TG). So this time the conversation focused exclusively on the challenges faced by Jolicloud. Especially now that the Jolicloud product is ready to reach the masses, the conversation was about how will the masses know that Jolicloud exists.

Now this post is mainly about one curious fact. Until our conversation today, I don’t think that Tariq was focusing on his real target: Microsoft. This is as if we had built Jazztel for example without focusing on Telefonica. Or, if Apple built Mac without focusing on the PC. A non starter. When you are taking market share from a monopolist you have to attack that monopolist. I hope our amicable debate on this matter changed Tariq´s mind and soon we will see Jolicloud’s web site making clear claims on exactly why Jolicloud is better than Windows. Otherwise Jolicloud will not go anywhere. Any prospective Jolicloud user now has Windows, and if Jolicloud does not explain point by point how Jolicloud is better, they will not make the switch. Switching operating systems is not like downloading Skype, it is a life changing decision for computer users. And if you go to the Jolicloud web site now, you don’t really understand that Jolicloud is a better alternative to Windows for your netbook.

But getting to the point was not a straight line in our two hour conversation. Instead we drifted towards all Operating Systems as we are both fans of the subject. Learning from their pros and cons may be important, even from a product design perspective.  But for the mission of communicating Jolicloud to the planet, OS other than Windows are irrelevant. Android is irrelevant because it is not for netbooks. Mac OSX is irrelevant because it does not have a netbook. All the other Linux based operating systems have managed to convince very few people to adopt them in the laptop market so they are irrelevant from Jolicloud’s point of view. Chrome OS may become relevant but so far it is not ready and is not a player. The iPad in itself is a competitor to netbooks in general and will have an effect on netbook markets, but when you look from Jolicloud’s perspective the key is not if the iPad causes a dent in the netbook market, but how to dent the netbook OS market with Jolicloud. So the iPad is irrelevant. What is relevant for Jolicloud is to convince the millions of netbook buyers every month to download Jolicloud and either dual boot or just use Jolicloud.

So concretely I advise Tariq to make it the mission of Jolicloud to show that it is better than Windows. That he should offer a prize within his 50K community of early adopters for the best video that shows that Jolicloud is better than Windows. That his website should clearly explain, in great detail how your use of your netbook will be greatly expanded when you switch to Jolicloud.

To me, the “Jolicloud is better than Windows” campaign bullet points are:

-Jolicloud is faster to turn on and faster to turn off than Windows. So is Mac btw but Mac is the rich kid choice, netbooks cost 70% less than a Mac.

-Jolicloud offers you a safe virus free world, no virus, no anti-virus installs, no internet paranoia.

-Jolicloud is social, friends discover apps, friends share apps, friends help you. Jolicloud is a community of users. So are all the Linux communities, by the way, and they have done an incredible job but most of humanity does not know this.

-Jolicloud leaves your data in the cloud which means that your data is safe and if you lose your computer for any reason you can clone your computer in less than an hour, try that with Windows. A new PC is a day of work.

-Jolicloud is free, most apps are free and install faster than downloads in a windows based PC.

Yes, I know, if you are a Linux person you will argue that Jolicloud is just another Linux version focused on the non technical user. But, Linux person, the truth is that 99% of the planet either does not know Linux, is afraid of Linux or uses Linux on servers and does not even know it. Saying that Jolicloud is a Linux that is more social and idiot proof will not get Jolicloud anywhere. Their job is to prove they are better than Windows. And the truth is they are. Now they have to get the message out there.

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Buy a new Apple device, cloning an old one is easy. Buy a new RIM or Microsoft, cloning an old one is hard. Hence Apple’s growth. RIM, Microsoft have to learn that the key is to get you to buy new products as frequently as possible. Many people don’t buy a new windows laptop because it takes a day of hard work to move your info and programs. Apple makes it so easy.

Flash may be buggy, but the non flash iPad surfing experience is like watching B&W TV. I really can’t use my iPad regularly. All sorts of unexpected websites don’t work. Today it was one for adopted pets. Could not see pictures in it.

Downturns are great moments to gain market share. Think of Google when it got started. If you are a survivor in a downturn you are the predominant colony, as with bacteria exposed to antibiotics.

In January mobile users consumed 139MB of data. A year earlier each used only 38MB. Mobile data usage is exploding. 3G networks can’t cope. Hence Fon’s growth.

I find the iPad most useful in situations in which laptops are frowned upon. I had a board meeting at www.ie.edu and nobody used laptops. The iPad was discreet and did not offend anyone.

MBA programs are countercyclical as opportunity costs fall in recessions. Last year was IE’s best.

The Bologna Agreement is like the euro of University education. It unifies the European educational market for the institutions well position to take advantage of it.

Most in power in Europe would rather see Greece sink, than the Euro rise again. But not totally because most of the Greek debt is in the hands of German banks.

I just watched TV. Hadn’t done that in ages. Was surprised to see commercials not made for me.Products I could not possibly buy.

The paradox of the music industry is that it’s being destroyed out of love for music. If people didn’t care about music they would not make such efforts to get it without paying rights.

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Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

This week I bought a new 500GB hard drive for my Macbook and experienced how easy and quick it is to clone your old smaller hard drive into what is a gigantic hard drive for a laptop in an incredibly short amount of time. The HUGE difference between Macs and Windows machines is the concept of cloning. While Windows does not allow you to clone itself Mac does just that. And cloning means tremendous savings in both time and money. It means new hardware with all your stuff already in it. It is interestingly that the company that makes it so hard to clone an iPod makes it so easy to clone a Mac.

To change my hard drive all I did is buy a new one for only $110 in Amazon enclosed it and cloned it using a free program called Super Duper. I then replace the hard disk opening the compartment that seats behind the battery using a special mini screw driver that came with the hard drive. True, there are cloning tools for Windows too, but on Mac it’s just super easy to change, both the hardware and the software. I used Microsoft from 20 years and changed to Apple two years ago. During all my time with Microsoft I thought that Apple was better but harder. Now I see that Apple is better because it is easier, much easier. Microsoft made me feel like an idiot. Apple makes me feel smart. I still don´t know if I am smart or an idiot overall but I certainly prefer the Apple feeling.

And what really puts Mac on another level of simplicity is what happens when you buy a new laptop. On Windows you need to install all your applications and manually recover your documents from your backups, while loosing most of your settings and preferences. On Mac, thanks to its UNIX style “everything is a file” approach, migrating your documents, applications and application settings is as easy as copying your files from your backup to your new computer. With Leopard it’s now even easier: as soon as you boot up your new Mac, Apple’s Migration Assistant lets you copy all your files from your old computer (over WiFi or ethernet) or from a backup. And if you want to go insane with memory here´s a hack that will give you a Tera Macbook.

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

When I met with Steve Jobs to talk about Fon I found him to be both a genius and an unbearable person. I walked into the meeting in awe and I left in desperation. Steve Jobs in person was one of the biggest disappointments of my business life. And that was only after a 90 minute meeting. Other top entrepreneur who I met including Larry, Sergey, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and even Bill Gates are extremely nice people and not for that less successful than Steve Jobs. And this is not just my opinion but that of most who ever dealt closely with Steve Jobs I found out later, something that somehow the general public is not aware of. I imagine that working for Steve Jobs every day must be occasionally great but frequently a torture. And I say this writing off a Mac and with an iPhone in my pocket, my point is that you don´t need to be cruel to be successful. As a result, probably Steve´s main character flaw, which is to remind you in every other sentence what a brilliant individual he is and how unoriginal you are, partly explains the success of the new Palm Pre. In this post Scoble explains both, how fantastic the new Palm Pre is but also how it was mostly built by former Apple employees. Would this be Apple employees who couldn´t stand Steve anymore? Probably. Everyone calls Steve Jobs a genius and he certainly is a design genius. But he would be even more successful and certainly a happier person if he did not have a compulsion for humiliating other folks.

Disclosure: I own Apple shares and do not own Palm shares.

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

According to a recent report from Admob, a company bravely and so far successfully competing with Google on mobile advertising, today about 8% of requests to their servers come from WiFi networks, while the same was 3% in August. Use of WiFi from mobile devices is increasing thanks to devices like the iPhone, T-Mobile’s G1, and WiFi-enabled Blackberry phones spreading really fast.

Interestingly on iPhones 42% of requests come from WiFi, while for other WiFi phones the average is between 10-20%. According to Om Malik this is due to AT&T’s spotty 3G coverage and to the company’s efforts to offload traffic to WiFi. I believe what also plays a big role is the great job Apple did integrating WiFi on the device and the fact the OS on the iPhone forces bandwidth hungry applications to use WiFi whenever it’s available, saving huge costs to the network operators and giving users better speed and service. This proves that 3G and WiFi are more complementary than competitive and grow in tandem.

Steve Jobs holding a MacBook Air
Image via Wikipedia

Thank you Steve Jobs. Thank you for the iPhone. Thank you for making laptops like the MacBook Air that only work with WiFi. Thank you because since we met and you told me how interested you were in WiFi us at Fon we keep getting calls from 3G operators who are selling your iPhone and find that it is a bandwidth hog. At a meeting with Steve Nicholson of The Cloud last Friday for example I heard that the iPhone consumes 30 times more data than the average mobile handset and is alerting operators on how important it is to off load traffic to WiFi networks. The iPhone is now the best selling mobile handset in USA. AT&T reacted quickly and bought Wayport for $275 million or 27 times EBITDA, not bad for a world experiencing a global financial crisis. My sources tell me that the iPhone was the main catalyst for the purchase. It is estimated that it costs 85% less to send traffic through WiFi than through 3G. And now Boingo just bought OptiFi. At Fon we are also noticing more and more iPhone traffic. We call it iFon traffic. And it´s great for Fon.

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Apple iPhone 4Image by tychay via Flickr If you work for a mobile carrier anywhere in the world read this article please. The news is that the introduction of the iPhone is bringing AT&T network´s down. In the article you can see that AT&T had to stop the launch of the Blackberry Bold, an amazing new product by Blackberry because iPhone users are bandwidth hogs. Indeed in a desperate measure AT&T is promoting 3G but sending its customers who already paid for 3G to WiFi. Indeed they are forcing them to use WiFi to do such integral parts of the iPhone experience as buying music and videos from iTunes something that must be getting Apple quite pissed as without a WiFi network AT&T simply slows iTunes sales.

Even though Fon cannot disclose who we are in conversations with but I can say that this are 2 of the largest 3G carriers in the world who find themselves with this problem. Selling iPhones and having to deal with radically new data habits of the iPhone customers that require a great deal of investment in their network. The solution is to do what BT did with us at BT Fon and install the Fon functionality on millions of their DSL boxes and offer their DSL customers WiFi roaming while giving them extra bandwidth (so they are never bandwidth deprived at home) to help create WiFi coverage everywhere they can build a national WiFi network for 99% less than a national 3G network. Moreover DSL operators who work with Fon are finding that by building a network with us they can launch their own dual 3G WiFi handsets including UMA, they have customers who churn less cause they pay at home and get free roaming everywhere, and they do better than the competitors who do not work with us because with their competitors customers pay at home and get WiFi at home but with us they pay at home and get WiFi in tons of places.

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Nokia CorporationImage via WikipediaWhat is best to be Nokia or Apple? When you look at Apple´s financials and compare them to Nokia financials you clearly see that Nokia is doing much better than Apple except on one item: Market cap. This is the same with Microsoft and Google except that Microsoft´s market cap is still higher than Google´s. But the concept is the same. Investors give the Silicon Valley companies a much higher P/E. They believe that Apple and Google are on the rise, and Microsoft and Nokia on the decline. Looking at this and knowing about all the common ties including common board members that exist between Google and Apple I wonder why Nokia and Microsoft don´t have closer collaborations, especially now that Apple has gone after Nokia´s lunch, high end phones. But Nokia still sells in only one week as many phones as the iPhone has ever sold. Investors lose track of this. And Nokia´s CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo seems to have a clear view of who his competitors are.

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