In this old Motorola commercial they mention that, “…today there are only a few thousand cellular phones…”. Watch it and then quit whining about *any* limitations you think you have with today’s smartphone!
Meeker delivered her report to a group of Students at Stanford University and, to me, the biggest revelation within it is a huge section of her report that shows how device and connectivity trends are leading to the complete re-imagination of everything from encyclopedias to money. Think about how we are shifting from “stuff” to “online” and you’ll begin to sense the trends leading away from accumulation of material things to engagement with all things digital.
Back in early 2006 I was contracted to write a white paper for Palm smartphone higher education reps to use when calling on decision-makers at colleges and universities. The premise of my pitch within this paper was that students — already in 2006 — were beginning to be “always on, always connected” and the implied message was that these decision-makers better embrace Palm smartphones immediately!
I’m hearing those four words over-and-over again in podcasts, speeches and talks. Especially since the world is accelerating toward one where mobile devices are ubiquitous and people have them in their pockets or purses (or next to their bed at night) all the time.
I haven’t touted this white paper previously because of contractual obligations which long ago expired (especially since Palm was acquired by HP in 2010) but I was at a breakfast event this morning where a guy sitting next to me said again, “Borsch. You were telling me this stuff YEARS ago” and it made me think about this paper. So I’m posting it since, frankly, I’d forgotten about the paper until this morning and re-reading it was fun.
The Palm Connected Campus – a White Paper
My family and I just got back from a 10 day adventure across Germany, Austria and Poland. Since each of us had our iPhones, my wife and I are iPads, and my daughter her Macbook Air 11″ (the latter needed for homework as college started during the trip), I researched and we signed up for multiple Boingo accounts in order to access Wifi on the trip.
Boingo is a hotspot “aggregator” who apparently partners with providers all over the world. Marketed as a magic “launch app and get connected” service, it does nothing of the sort. Boingo bombed for us and was incredibly frustrating. My wife, daughter and son continually complained that, “Boingo is a total waste!“
The Boingo app itself is flawed: you first have to access a Wifi hotspot (or what Europeans refer to as a “WLAN” hotspot) before you launch the Boingo app! The Boingo app cannot seek out and connect with various hotspot providers. The only place it worked were places where we either already had access (e.g., Marriott hotels; Starbucks) or had already logged in with credentials at the hotspot (e.g., our Sheraton hotel in Krakow, Poland).
But this is what is really bizarre: in order to find other hotspots you had to be connected! It had no internal directory; didn’t have one to download to our iPhones (so we could, for example, download Munich, Berlin, Salzburg and the other places we were visiting); and the app couldn’t be placed in to “seek” mode like others I’ve used on my iPhone to find Wifi hotspots (e.g., JWire) so it was useless for locating places where Boingo could connect. Sheesh.
So what’s the point of having the Boingo service? It’s useful in the USA since we could get on at the airport for no charge. Since my wife is a Delta club member we had free wifi regardless.
The only way this service could be made worthwhile overseas is if:
1) You launched the app (or left it running in the background) and it would notify you of an “approved” Boingo hotspot
2) Performed ALL of the handshaking, credential input and negotiations so launching the Boingo app enabled one to get on instantly.
Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and money.
While I appreciate the challenges a Boingo has with all of the protectionism in Europe (and that countries like Germany, France and Poland ensuring their own, respective mobile and WLAN providers can protect their service revenues) the way Boingo is positioned, marketed and delivered means people like us—ones who’d be lifelong customers if the service worked as advertised—are instead cancelling the service today.