Dollar hit 1.52 vs the euro today. For Fon this is not tragic because our routers, the Foneras are priced in dollars and in the last 2 years the dollar has gone down over 30% and so has the cost of our routers when measured in euros. On the negative our labor costs are mostly in euros and labor costs are by far the biggest at Fon cause we are mostly a software company. But never mind Fon. When will the dollar reach a value that makes the financial world crack? When will the Arabs for example stop taking dollars cause they can´t afford their vacations in Marbella and St Tropez anymore and the US is seen as hostile anyway? When will the Chinese stop taking US debt because they get tired that the US government then blocks them on most company purchases they want to do for security reasons? And when will the US suffer serious inflation because of the high cost of imports such as oil that can be replaced? And on top of these issues there´s a bigger one and that is, can the US continue to be the world´s biggest debtor and the globala superpower at the same time?
Alan Levy and I started working together in the 80s when he helped me build Viatel a company whose main source of revenues came from telephone services and from which we both had very successful exits. Since then we have parted ways in business but remained friends with me thinking of him as a more conservative guy who stuck to telephony in the SIP format and me going on to build Fon, the global WiFi network. But my view of Alan Levy changed when I saw how he could successfully blend old style telephony with an exciting new format and the result is BlogTalkRadio. This week I was going to write an elaborate article in order to explain how is it that BlogTalkRadio democratizes the talk radio format using the internet and telephones and makes it available for all but I found out that Conde Nast Portfolio saved me from doing the research. Here´s a great article summarizing BlogTalkRadio.
What did the guys at Radar.net do to get $11 million for what is basically a Twitxr that Fon Labs developed with 2 people in 3 weeks? And I see my friends Joi Ito and Reid Hoffman participated on the first round when they got their first $4 million so there´s probably more to the story than meets the eye. In the meantime Twitxr now links with Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, it has its own iPhone app called iTwitxr, and it works over tons of devices and mobile phones via uploads or emails. It has 4000 members who have posted over 6000 pictures during the first days and pixs are geolocalized (I don´t see that theirs are nor do I see a friends map). I know we owe you a graphic design for Twitxr, so far it has the coders design. We will upload something soon when the Fon designers get a break for Fon stuff. But then what do I know. Radar just appeared on my radar. Maybe they are truly great.
First Jason Reitman comes up with a cute, funny and wrong movie that defends the tobacco industry called Thank You For Smoking and gets away with it. After this feat he comes up with a cute, funny movie about teenage pregnancy called Juno and the movie wins an Oscar and makes over $100M in the box office. What next Jason? A cute and funny movie about the Iraq war?
Don´t get me wrong, I enjoyed both Thank you for smoking and Juno because the acting was excellent and the scripts were very well written. The problem in my case and that of millions of parents of teenagers is that not only I had to give my three kids the “but smoking is still bad” talk after Thank you for smoking but I had to give a tougher “don´t try this at home” talk with my girls 15 and 17 who thought Juno was such an appealing character. After struggling with the incorrect moral undertone of Jason´s subjects at this point I prefer movies who are easier to deal with as a parent. Films like Knocked Up for example in which people who do wrong things (mixing drugs and unprotected sex) just look the part making it hard for my kids to identify with (although admittedly leading to poorer results as a movie). Jason Reitman instead specializes in portraying the most appealing characters who unfortunately also do very wrong things like preaching the benefits of tobacco and getting pregnant after a night of casual sex at 16. In Thank you for smoking and Juno, Jason Reitman went way pass his father as a movie director of social subjects (dad did Kindergarden Cop) into a new political area, one that is valid but thorny, namely that of showing people we like who do things that we don´t believe in. By now I think Jason is developing his own genre of political movies: how to make the public fall in love with what they (mostly) think it´s wrong. In my case it worked in the sense that I am very much against the tobacco industry and against unwanted teen age pregnancies and yet… I found myself uncomfortably enjoying both movies. Recently another movie who was neither cute, nor funny but probably better than Jason Reitman´s films had the same effect on me and that is the German film “The Life of Others”. The Life of Others, a must see, is the story of a “good” torture expert if you can believe that such person can exist. And yet it´s effective because in the world of grown ups we do learn to see that most bad people have something good in them and viceversa. But in the age of black and white sometimes…black and white is good at least if you are watching the movie with your kids and feel obliged to say something. But considering that Jason Reitman is not a teacher, nor a preacher but a movie director who likes to reverse engineer our morals I have a recommendation to make to him. I think his next feature should be about Diablo Cody the Oscar winner script writer of Juno. I am ready to watch the cute and funny version of the story of a stripper who became a writer who won an Oscar.
Twitxr (pronounced twitcher) day 3: Albert and Victor at Fonlabs never stop and in two days from Twitxr‘s launch they added a couple of extremely useful features. As you know Twitxr is like a Twitter with pictures, a service to update your friends with what you are doing, where you are doing it and, most importantly, a picture of it. The text and picture you post will appear not only on Twitxr.com, but also on your Twitter, Facebook and now Flickr account, if you have configured the service to do so.
Starting today you’ll be able to post your pictures and text to Twitxr from any device with an e-mail client (any PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Nokia phone or smartphone, Windows Mobile device, not jailbraked iPhone, etc… ). This adds support to an incredible number of devices and makes the service really simple to use. Of course if you have a jailbraked iPhone you should use iTwitxr (available on the Network category in Installer.app) which makes the experience fast and intuitive and adds automatic geolocation to your posts.
- Enter your location as the subject of the e-mail
- Type the update message as the body (140 characters or less)
- Attach the picture
- Send it to your private twitxr e-mail address
As a new feature was not enough, Twitxr now allows you to post your twitxs to your Flickr account and have your photos geolocated and complete with a description (your update message). This latest addition makes Twitxr the perfect service for those who want to share messages and pictures with their friends on the most popular microblogging and photo sharing services (Twitter, Facebook and Flickr), using almost any mobile device on the market from wherever they are.
If you have any suggestion or comment please send them to contact AT twitxr.com.
Tonight Fon hosted the Facebook developer´s garage in Madrid. It was the first in the Spanish language and I think that Spanish is the first language other than English that Facebook launched. I am sure that soon there will be may pictures about the event and here is an interview Mobuzz.tv made me. There will be pictures about it in Facebook as well but those be seen by the friends of the people who came to the event. What was impressive about this event is that Facebook in Spain is still a tiny community of 300K early adopters. Still the developer community came to the event in full force with over 100 coders present and over 250 people overall. The event did not take place at a garage actually with garage being such a Silicon Valley term. In Madrid we hosted at Teatro Lara a theater I partly own. While there were some negative comments made about the fact that most of the Facebook apps are hardly used most people were impressed about the fact that if you write a Facebook app you can keep 100% of the income that that app generates. At the end my friend Anil from Mobuzz summarize the Facebook Fon event in one word the Fonbook. What is that, the printed version of Facebook?
For those who speak Spanish here´s an excellent summary of the event.
And we got a ton of twitxs that are pronounced twitches today. And we got so many pictxrs we are quickly ordering more server space for your future twitxs. Btw it is in Basque that tx is pronounced ch. But ch like in English or in Spanish because ch in Italian is pronounced like a k, and in German like a j in Spanish. Is this clear? Welcome to Europe.
Is it OK or is it knocked out dead? Webhotornot now has a simpler name, Okorko. So far we have had 170,000 votes in Okorko, an enormous amount considering that what people are doing is voting on how they like different web sites. I guess that some like to comment on web sites more than they like to comment on babes or dudes.
By now all the different Fon Labs experimental products have been used by over a million people and all this work is mostly done by Victor and Albert Martin and myself with help with the rest of the Fon team (around 40 developers who we prefer that stay focused building the largest WiFi community in the world!). Many readers of my English and Spanish blogs have asked me why would Fon fund such a lab and how does this help Fon grow and make money. My answer is twofold. The first one is that I believe that what matters most in tech businesses is to experiment, and then sometimes money follows. Generally if you experiment hard enough and with smart enough people….money always follows. Secondly even if money does not directly follow on Fon Labs products these services promote Fon and that has value to Fon as a global brand as well. For example when we improved upon TinyURL by creating Fon.gs or Fon gets simple which is like TinyURL but you get to choose exactly what you want that TinyURL to be (for example www.fon.gs/empirestate) then all URLS say Fon and we get promoted while providing a service more memorable than TinyURL. Cause tinyurl is great but who cares if http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinvars/2237775222/ this long URL becomes http://tinyurl.com/ysvrjh. I can´t remember ysvrjh. Instead for me it´s easier if it becomes www.fon.gs/menorcatalk cause at least I know that that link takes me to a picture of the Menorca Talk. And that´s just one example. At Fon Labs we have also made a lot of improvements to Gmail. We made possible to send old emails from other email systems to Gmail with the Fon Uploader We made it possible to store spreadsheets, pictures, songs, word files and all sorts of files in Gmail with Gspace a tool used by half a million people and we even created Fonbackup a way to back up entire folders again using Gmail as the storage platform. And we keep coming with useful stuff. We have UnfoldingNews which is a search engine for news as they unfold. For example now that we just launched Twitxr I will follow it in unfolding news. Last week we launched Webhotornot which we just renamed Okorko (thanks for the reader who recommended the name change). Okorko is new website that acts as a start up discovery platform in which users vote if a new web site is OK or KO (dead) and we got over 60K people using it already. It all started as a practical joke on Hotornot fooling around with my friend David Sifry and now it has over 170K votes.
And how do we work at Fonlabs? Well somebody has an idea and we either kill it or go on with it. And now we are launching Twitxr, a collaborative project of Victor, Albert, myself and Pietro Saccomani and soon….you.
What happened with Twitxr is that we were looking at Twitter and… we all love Twitter. But the problem Twitter has for Fon is that Fon loves bandwidth intensive apps. We love them because WiFi is all about heavy bandwidth use. WiFi shows best for movies, TV, games, music, pictures. GPRS or EDGE for example work well with text and Twitter is text so why would you really need Fon to Twit? So we came up with a more bandwidth intensive twit and we called it to TWITX and we called the site Twitxr. We hope you like it.
Twitxr is like Twitter but with pictures and geolocalization. The idea is very simple, you take a picture with your iPhone or other device, you write something related to the picture and this picture gets posted on the Twitxr site where you have your followers. So your followers in Twitxr can get just text (but for that you´d better just use Twitter) or text with a picture and geolocalization. What is also interesting is that your “twitx” also gets posted as a “twit” with a link both to Twitter and to Twitxr so people can read your text in Twitter but see your picture and text in Twitxr (and in my case they started appearing in my blog). So if Twitter answers the question of what are you doing now (which I never answer in my twits but I will in my Twitxs including pix), Twitxr answers what you are doing, plus gives an image of how you are doing it or who you are doing it with. And not only that but Twitxr takes information directly from your mobile device and tells WHERE you are doing it. Moreover all this goes in your Facebook as well so your friends get the Twitxs. They get at once a pix, plus your geolocalization, plus your text message.
So in order to prove the concept of Twitxing we started with the iPhone. The liberated iPhones are a great proof of concept for Twitxr (the iPhone tanked til it was open now over a million are estimated to be liberated) cause they have WiFi that works great with another Fon app the iFon app that turns your iPhone into a roaming WiFi device where there are many Fonspots (like in Tokyo). So with WiFi you can send your pictures to Twitxr very, very quickly. Also thanks to cell providers the iPhone also has some rudimentary geolocalization so that is tagged to the Twitx. So if you are lucky enough to have a liberated iPhones you can install iTwitxr from the installer (we may soon just call it Twitxr) and open an account in Twitxr and start twitxing away. And you can choose to just Twitx, or you can Twitx and Twit simultaneously, or you can do a triple whammy and Twitx, twit and Facebook all in one shot. If you use Facebook then your Twitxrs are shared with your friends who see the text, the picture and where you are. But you can of course also use Twitxr with any picture from any computer. You upload the picture to the Twitxr site and say what you want to say and your twitx is ready.
We hope you like this very beta product and give us ideas on how to improve it!
Last week I had lunch with Dan Dubno in NYC and it was a gadget fest. My kids were there, they loved Dan. And I loved that old phone handset that is really Bluetooth and works fab with my Blackberry. I owe you a better picture of it. The other two weird gadgets are surreal. One turns all TVs off wherever you are and the other one cuts all telephone conversations. Yeah! Screw others when they stand on the way to silence.