If you read all the way down to Palm’s announcement on their new Palm TX, you’ll see that it supports MobiTV. I’ve watched MobiTV on a Treo recently, and I think it looks great even over a cellular network. When I watched it a year ago, I was pretty disappointed by the experience – but not today. Many have argued that Wi-Fi lacks QoS for voice and video, but this application doesn’t require much bandwidth so I’d expect it to be pretty good. Our data shows that as screen size goes up on portable devices so does consumer interest in watching “live” TV streamed to the device. Idetic also has some stuff (e.g., faster channel switching) in the works that will make this experince even better over time.
Archive for October, 2005
Tantus Networks announced their intent to roll out 500 free (to venue owners and users) Wi-Fi hotspots in the Chicago are. (See press release). This one will be interesting to watch. Local ad inventory is typically hard to sell due to the cost of the sale as well as the expectations of local advertisers – many of which will expect pay-for-performance models as they will not be satisfied with the placement short of a phone call.
It’s one thing to be Google which can integrate local maps and information into their service offering (e.g. free Wi-Fi in San Francisco), and it’s another to be selling advertising on splash pages. It will also be hard in the near term to operate a Wi-Fi network with a single stream of revenue (i.e., advertising). That said, most consumers are not willing to pay for public Wi-Fi so ad-supported networks will emerge in one form or another. I think it’s more a question of whether ad revenues alone will be enough in the near and long term.
We wrote a piece on ad-supported Wi-Fi (New Wi-Fi Business Models: Opportunities for Advertisers in Free Hotspots) back in July. We tried to talk to a couple of publications about the possibility, but we had a hard time selling them on the idea – that advertisers might pay for local spots on a public Wi-Fi network. The journalist scheduled several rounds with us to discuss the concept, but eventually gave up because he/she just couldn’t imagine it.
Google has now thrown their name in the hat along with 24+ other entities to build/operate a wireless network in San Francisco. See story. Our research shows that the majority of public Wi-Fi users want the service for free. A Wi-Fi network in San Francisco will require a lot of micro revenue streams, cost savings, and perceived benefits by the community to justify the cost. Local advertising can be challenged by a high cost of sales and lack of inventory, but adoption of public Wi-Fi is growing quickly (even if unpaid) and will offer a lot of eyeballs in San Francisco. Will be an interesting story to follow.
Philadephia chose Earthlink as a partner to develop and operate its municipal wireless network earlier this week. Either partner would have likely been a good choice, and it’s hard to know what went on behind closed doors in the negotiations. In choosing Earthlink as a partner, I think Philadelphia acknowledges that there is a lot of work to do beyond building a network. Experience with customer acquisition, customer service, truck rolls, billing, etc. all must be core competencies for any partner that a city selects.