The Eye-Fi Card looks and acts like a standard SDHC memory card (up to 2GB) that you can easily plug into your digital camera, but it’s actually a great WiFi gadget that automatically transfers your photos and videos to the Web and your computer, as soon as your camera gets in range of a WiFi router like a Fonera.
When your pics and videos are uploaded they can be automatically shared on around 20 photo and video sharing services including Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket and Youtube. When your computer is turned on your pics are are downloaded to a folder on your computer or directly into iPhoto if you are on a Mac.
Adding WiFi to your camera makes a lot of sense, as it lets you forget about the annoying downloading and uploading procedures necessary to put your pictures and videos on the Internet. Our own Fonera 2.0 will let you achieve the same results, but will work with any digital camera and any memory card. You’ll soon be able to plug your camera to an USB port on the Fonera 2.0 and your pics and videos will be automatically uploaded to Flickr and Youtube. No need to boot up your PC and waste time with forms and endless uploads, the Fonera 2.0 will take care of it for you. But the Fonera 2.0 is not just about uploading pictures and videos to the Web, it will also help you manage your storage, backup and downloading activities, thanks to a USB port and a selection of plugins developed by the community.
As FON continues to grow in size, now with well over 300,000 FON Spots and thousands of partner hotspots, we also continue to improve in quality and pricing.
Yesterday, FON launched several new access products and features designed to greatly improve the user experience of people accessing the FON network. Based on feedback from dedicated Foneros, we now offer an access portal with a different look and feel, a simplified lay-out and purchase flow, and two new ways to connect: 25 Minutes by SMS, and 1 Hour by credit card, SMS or PayPal.
We are also testing prices in some areas to find the right price to satisfy all members of our FON Community: Linus’s, who want Aliens to test the network so they would buy a La Fonera and grow the FON network, Bills who want to make money from Aliens connecting, and Aliens who want to surf the internet and test the FON network before purchasing a La Fonera. And, we launched the Alien access in Japan where so far the FON network was limited only to Linus and Bills.
Also we implemented that Bills will be able to transfer the money they make to their Prepaid WiFi account. They can use the Prepaid WiFi account to surf at the commercial hotspots of BT Openzone in the UK.
These are just the latest examples of how we are continuing to innovate and improve the FON experience for all our customers. More exciting product launches, like Prepaid WiFi for FON network, our pay-per-minute access product, and the La Fonera 2.0, our best WiFi router yet, are to come soon.
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.
Stacey at GigaOm shot his video. While this video won´t make it to the most watched videos it gives an excellent explanation of why WiFi keeps growing exponentially around the world. In 2006 when Fon was founded there were around 200 million wifi chips made and this year will end with over a billion. And while it doesn´t mention Fon it is gadgets that is making us end the year with over 300,000 Fonspots around the world. It´s paradoxical that Fon started as a WiMax company, failed and was reborn as a WiFi company. WiMax is the perennial future that never happens. WiFi grows and grows.
FON has a great web application called FON Maps that lets you search for bars, restaurants and other FON Spots in your neighborhood or in the city you are visiting. FON Maps on the web are great when you can plan your trips, but many Foneros asked us about ways to access FON Maps from their mobile phones, to find the nearest FON Spot when they really need it.
Today I’m happy to announce FON Maps is now an iPhone application that lets you see on a map all the Fon Spots near you, so anytime you can quickly know where to go to enjoy free WiFi. You can get it on the AppStore.
Growth at Fon has accelerated so much that we reached one million community members and close to 300K lit routers (this is ten times more routers than T Mobile has on a worldwide basis). Yes, it is true that a lot of the growth from Fon is now coming from operator deals, especially from BTFon, but that is also great news, because Fon is proving that we can work with telecom operators. Fon is showing fixed operators that by adding our shared wifi functionality with their broadband customers they have less churn, a lower cost of customer acquisition and a higher ARPU. We are also beginning to show some wireless operators that, as laptops get smaller and phones get bigger, mobile devices become data hogs and that WiFi is a great complement to 3G. The iPhone, which even though is sold as a 3G device forces you to use WiFi to get downloads from iTunes, is another proof of concept.
Sales of routers and day passes keep growing as we reduce losses. Last year we were loosing more then a million euros per month and this “burn rate” has shrunk to around 300K per month this summer. Our goal of reaching break even by the end of 09, which seemed so distant last summer, now looks within site. And the fundamentals are with us. When we started Fon, back in 2006, 200 million WiFi chips were sold. The number of chips sold this year is expected to reach 1 billion.
And more telecom operator deals are in the pipeline. In July we started Fon in Portugal in partnership with the largest cable operator in that country called Zon. Together we created Zon@Fon to serve their 1.5 million customers plus everyone else in Portugal who would like to enter the network. Next month we will launch Fon in Russia together with Sistema, the largest fixed and mobile operator in the country, and we have 8 such deals in negotiations. Top countries for Fon are the UK, Japan and France. Japan in particular is the country where we sell the most routers. These countries are also some of the three most technologically advanced large countries in the world. To me this means that others will follow.
Regarding our employees, we now have a more international team, reflecting the fact that Spain is less than 10% of our market. I take this opportunity to congratulate the people working at Fon for the great results achieved. Even if the company is not profitable yet, our goal gets closer every day and I personally put my time, money and heart in Fon. I also want to thank our investors at BT, Google, eBay, Index and others. I also thank all Foneros around the world as without their enthusiasm Fon, the largest WiFi network in the world would not exist.