The city of Arezzo will soon host one of the first Italian municipal WiFi networks, thanks to an agreement with FON and the involvement of its citizens, who will share their Internet connections and contribute to the roll out of the network.
The municipality will install FON Hotspots in strategical locations all around the city. Citizens who want to access the network for free will have a chance to become Foneros and share their own broadband connections, expanding the coverage of the network. Citizens who won’t contribute to the network, tourists and anybody visiting the city who is not a Fonero, will still have a chance to access the Internet for free for 15 minutes (watching a 15 seconds video ad) or will be able to buy a daily pass for 3 euros.
The municipality will also use the network to inform and communicate with citizens and tourists, using the welcome page of a custom built portal. FON offers a sustainable solution for municipalities that want to build a muni WiFi network with limited investment and the direct involvement of their citizens in the roll out of the network.
I am sorry that I don’t have time to translate this article in my Spanish blog about how hard it can be to be Jewish in Spain. Most of those who know me know I love Spain but one thing I can’t stand about Spaniards is how antisemitic they are. Not only is Spanish press especially El Pais extremely anti Israel (I have also been very critical of the policies of the State of Israel but not of its right to exist of course), but now estaría poco o nada dispuesto“>El Pais published a study that showed that 56% of Spanish school children said that they would not share school work with a Jew. This is in a country that before 1492 had 10% of Jewish people but now Jews make 1 person in 3000 so most Spaniards have never met a Jew. If you can understand the comments you will see of course that the other half, the half that is not antisemitic is very supportive and understanding of how hard it is to be Jewish in Spain but if you live in the UK, or USA and happen to understand Spanish you will be shocked about some of the comments both in my blog and in my blog in the leading online publication in Spain, El Mundo.
Am I the only person who gets mad at somebody for not answering only to find his/her answer in the antispam filter? Or worse, a person who others get mad at for not answering because they got lost in a sea of penis enlargement, affordable antidepressants and $10 dollar diplomas? I have alwas criticize Americans for being in favor of the death penalty but spammers, well maybe not the electric chair but…&%@!
After my first day at Brainstorm in Half Moon Bay I have this comment to make. Great business leaders such as Michael Dell and Jeff Bezos, people whose companies reach hundreds of millions of consumers and whose revenues are in the tens of billions, are not necessarily great communicators. While bloggers who reach millions and whose ad revenues are in the single digit millions, people like Robert Scoble, Kara Swisher and Om Malik, are phenomenal, entertaining, insightful communicators. Dell´s and Bezos´sessions were hard to endure, while the bloggers where tremendously fun.
What I don´t understand though is how come people who do so much are able to communicate so little and people who do so little in comparison, as the bloggers, can communicate so much. Or is it that business leaders like Michael Dell or Jeff Bezos could present much more interesting stuff but because they manage publicly traded companies their hands are tied when it gets to talking to the public? While I think that some of that is true, as I have had the opportunity to have social and private conversations both with Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, what I can say is that CEO´s like them achieve so much because they are focused, not because they are amazing communicators. In my talks with Michael Dell in private for example, I have found him to be extremely knowledgeable (no surprise there) about the computer industry, about his competition, and about the exact situation at his own company, the challenges, the opportunities. But when it gets to talking about the world the impression I get is that Michael feels that his hands are full with his $61bn revenue empire. Kind of… what else is there to know well? And same is true of Jeff Bezos, amazing understanding of his consumers.
In Spanish they say “el que mucho abarca poco aprieta”, something like if your reach is wide your targeting is poor. Both Michael and Jeff have an amazing understanding of their target, their consumers, and that is all they are focused on. As Michael Dell put it today, we have “big ears” at Dell. And they do, and they are tuned in to the Dell consumer. And this obsession, which makes Michael so successful, may not make him the most interesting speaker. Michael Dell is about learning what he needs for him to make the best computer he can make for you. He is not about sharing his trade secrets.
Now sometimes some business leaders can actually communicate extremely well in public, as in the case of Steve Jobs. But interestingly, as well as Steve Jobs communicates to the masses, he is almost rude at a personal level. On a one to one basis, Jeff Bezos is funny, considerate, kind. So is Michael Dell. Steve Jobs is the opposite, most of those who don´t know him personally think he is great, most of those who do know him think he is abrasive and difficult, a genius, but extremely hard to deal with.
So what´s the conclusion here? That I still need to find the business leader who is both fascinating to listen to in public, great in private and very successful at running his company.
T Mobile is our rival at Fon. While we are now so far ahead of them in terms of hotspots (they have 28,000 we have 250,000), we are not there yet with this amazing machine they provide to charge any portable gadget you may have.
From launch, ZON@FON will be Portugal’s largest WiFi network, with over 2.500 hotspots, but thanks to this partnership we aim to add over 100.000 FONspots in the country. Zon will deploy routers with embedded ZON@FON functionality and allow its customers to host their own hotspot at no additional cost.
Of course this is great news for all Foneros, that will be able to access ZON@FON hotspots for free. Portugal may not be a large country, but it is an important tourist location in Europe, attracting thousands of people each year that will now have more chances to connect to the Internet while travelling, without incurring in costly roaming charges. Like any FONspot, ZON@FON hotspots will offer free access to the Internet to anybody for 15 minutes.
While travelling in the US I’ve been using these smartphones quite intensively and I have some random thoughts to share, from the point of view of a user.
If I was on a desert island (with cell coverage) I would carry with me just the BlackBerry 8310, since what I do more frequently on my mobile is using email and the BlackBerry’s QWERTY keyboard and push is better then any of the other 2 alternatives for that.
For GPS and navigation the BlackBerry 8310 has the best Google Maps version I’ve ever tried. In the US my iPhone had data traffic included and my BlackBerry with extremely expensive roaming charges for data, still it was hard resisting the temptation to use the BB. Whoever designed the Google Maps for the iPhone was not thinking of the user.
The keyboard on the BB is by far the best, next is the iPhone which is slow but doable, last is the Nokia N95. It is absurd to put so much intellect on the Nokia and make it…deaf.
As for music, the iPhone is by far the best, next the Nokia, last the BlackBerry for which music seems to be “glued on”.
To look at pictures the only one that really works is the iPhone, the BlackBerry is bad and the Nokia N95 has the worst software for pictures I’ve ever seen (if you have a lot of pics, your phone will likely freeze). It’s ironic how the Nokia is the best for taking pictures and still makes it so hard to look at both pixs and videos.
To use Twitxr, the iPhone is the best, next the BlackBerry, last the N95.
The iPhone has an awesome display, next is the N95, last the BlackBerry. The iPhone´s soul is the display but that makes it a “spectator” phone. The TV of phones. Great for watching, bad for input.
The Nokia N95 has the best camera and takes great videos. I can film with the iPhone using an app from Installer but it’s pretty bad anyway, the BlackBerry they say it can do videos, I don´t have the latest firmware that does that.
The iPhone is great to watch movies in streaming or from its memory. The N95 is not so bad, on the BlackBerry it’s terrible.
The BlackBerry has copy and paste, the iPhone still hasn’t. The Nokia has it, but I’ve never tried because without a QWERTY keyboard I don’t even bother using it for writing. Predictive text (T9) is not useful for me since I often change language. The iPhone software keyboard can easily adapt to different languages and you can quickly switch from one to the other.
At this point you may be wondering why I am not talking about the many Windows Mobile phones. My answer is because as bad as some features of the Symbian, Mac and Blackberry systems maybe they are all better than Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile seems to be designed with the same philosophy of Windows in general: tons of features that are unnecessary crowd the essential out. Try connecting to WiFi using Windows Mobile and you will see what I mean. Try with the iPhone and you can….breathe. Windows Mobile to me has the same problems as Vista. My take on operating systems is that easiest is Mac, best is Linux, Windows XP is already bad, frequently slow and difficult, Windows Vista is a dead end.
The phone that most resembles a computer is the iPhone, especially if jailbroken. The N95 is the more phone-like of the three. The BlackBerry is in between. If you just want to talk, a Nokia is your best option. The app store does not beat the installer for me. But at some point it may. I just like the freedom of the Installer. The Open Source spirit of the whole thing.
As for quantity of applications, the iPhone is the best, next is the Nokia with Symbian S60 and the BlackBerry is last. But while applications for BlackBerry are really few, most work very well and are very easy to use. The ones I use more often are Facebook and Google Maps with cellphone tower triangulation and GPS. The only app which performs really bad on my BB is Google Talk, which slows everything down.
The BlackBerry is SIM-unlocked, which makes it very expensive, especially when travelling abroad, since you can’t change the SIM with one from a local operator. The N95 and my iPhone are unlocked. The iPhone 3G has not been jailbroken or unlocked yet, but it will be soon.
My iPhone is ok for email with EDGE, WiFi is much better for everything else we will see when I try the 3G one how it works but probably almost as good as WiFi. The problem with the 3G plans, the one in Spain for example is that if you download a big file, say a movie, you kill your data plan which is maxed at 200MB unless you pay a fortune. The BlackBerry has no WiFi and no UMTS so web browsing is always slow, but it’s incredibly good for email. RIM has been able to squeeze GPRS and EDGE and optimize message downloading providing great speeds with little bandwidth. The Nokia N95 has everything from HSDPA to WiFi, but choosing a connection is slow, uncomfortable and the interface is badly designed.
With the iPhone’s headphones you can’t set the volume, with the N95’s you can and this is much better for riding bikes for example which I do a lot. Music on the BlackBerry is just for emergencies.
The iPhone is by far the best phone to surf the web, look at pictures, listen to music… everything but writing. If it had a physical keyboard it would be the best on all aspects. The BlackBerry has the best mouse/keyboard integration. Using your fingers as a pointing device is an interesting concept in the iPhone but it forces you to always use both hands. This is not the best solution when you’re in some situations, like when I’m holding my son in my arms. If you are left with one hand the iPhone is almost impossible to use. Not so the others.
To use FON the best smartphone is the iPhone. The N95 has a Symbian FON connection manager which is reasonably good, but the iFon application wecreated for the iPhone is the best in ease of use. The BlackBerry can’t access FON networks.
To sync with a Mac or PC, the iPhone wins, next the BlackBerry, last the N95. The N95 has more advanced features but the iPhone and BlackBerry are easier and faster to use.
The N95 can now sync with iTunes, but the iPhone is still the easiest to sync with iTunes and iPhoto. I don’t think the BlackBerry can talk with iTunes although somebody told me it does.
To save money the best is the N95 with which you can use many VoIP apps. Next is the iPhone that now has a very good Fring application (also available for Symbian devices). The worst is the BlackBerry that can’t run any VoIP app. My thing though is that I speak very little on the phone. I use them for almost everything else.
As for design, the iPhone looks better then the others, but it’s so slippery that it fell twice from my pocket. The N95 looks good and is reasonably sized. The BlackBerry is the most useful but the worst looking. My kids would not want to be seen with a Blackberry. They refuse to hold it.
The N95 gets an additional score for JoikuSpot, the software that lets you turn an HSDPA connection into WiFi and use your phone as a hotspot for PCs and other WiFi devices. The BlackBerry can’t act as a modem, and the iPhone if it can I haven´t seen how. The N95 is great as a modem via Bluetooth or USB.
The BlackBerry has the best battery duration, while the iPhone’s power consumption is terrible. They say the 3G iPhone improves on this. On the N95 it depends on what you do with it but batter life is a problem.
The N95 has the best external speaker, next the iPhone, the BlackBerry last.
To avoid accidental calls (your phone dialing numbers or contacts by itself) the worst is the BlackBerry, that loves to call your contacts while in your pocket, even if it has autolock. The iPhone and the N95 are better at avoiding those embarrassing moments in which you accidentally spill the beans.
Searching for a contact is terrible on the iPhone, ok on the N95, best on the BB.
The N95 also has some things that maybe of help. In Europe and some parts of Asia it has HSDPA which is better than 3G. It has radio if u like radio. The iPhone instead has some great apps to listen to internet radio over wifi in the Installer and on the App store as well.
The 3G iPhone is sold unlocked in some countries such as Italy for 500 euros which is not a crazy price. The Nokia N95 is also sold unlocked for the same price. BB is not cause is tied to a BB server somewhere.
The BT FON Facebook application, called Battle of The Fans, is doing very well and is now one of the most popular UK focused applications, with over 31,000 users and more then 7,000 waves generated. It’s part of a very successful marketing campaign that started with The World’s Biggest Mexican Wave initiative.
Whiskey Jacques is a great place in Sun Valley to go and and listen to live music.
I am at the Allen and Co Sun Valley conference where there is a no blogging policy. So I will not write about the conference. Here is a link from Technorati of what other bloggers are saying about this event.