Sunday, April 27, 2008

What happens when there is no Internet?

I don't understand why Martin posted this on his blog, but he makes a good point and he shows that Fon is not successful as he wants it to be. So heres a video for your own personal entertainment. Enjoy!

Martin's Blog: "Why we are building Fon (as portrayed by South Park)"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fonera 2.0 and The Fonosfera [UPDATED]

Looks like Martin released some details about the up coming La Fonera 2.0 and a new thing called The Fonosfera. Go ahead read it, I made some parts that I found interesting bold. It seems like Fon might finally be embracing hacking (that or else they realize that they are horrible at developing firmware for their routers and/or are too cheap to hire people to do it, this could explain why they plan on selling it cheap [I hope]). At the same time, this might finally give Fon that push in the right direction that they are currently unable to achieve or be a recipe for disaster.

"As I’ve recently disclosed, our main objective at FON is the launch of our next product, the Fonera 2.0. The Fonera 2.0 is a Fonera that will not only make it easy to provide WiFi for yourself and for your neighbors, it will also provide Foneros with great features like the ability to connect a hard drive to it and autonomously upload or download content from the Internet while you’re doing something else on your laptop or your PC is off. In short the Fonera 2.0 will manage your daily relationship with the Web 2.0 doing such thing as sending your pictures to Flickr, your videos to Youtube, downloading your torrents, etc. Many of the things that the new Fonera will do a PC can do of course but why tie up a thousand dollar investment with your vital info doing menial task when you can have a $49 Fonera do them.

The Fonera 2.0 will be an open platform for developers to build their applications on top of, much like a hacked iPhone is now. An open platform is nothing without a community of developers, so we’re announcing today the launch of The Fonosfera, our development community program that will span not only the Fonera 2.0 but all Fon products. We know there are already many communities doing great things with our Foneras, adding new features and fixing bugs. The idea behind the Fonosfera is to bring all the development work the communities have been doing and will do in the future to any Fon user.

The Fonosfera will be a chance for all these communities to keep working independently, while contributing to the development of Fon products including the Fonera 2.0 and the applications that will run on it. The Fonosfera will provide a space for gathering and sharing between developers and to make their projects available to end users all around the world. It will include a framework with development and community tools such as svn, trac, forums, mailing list, wiki etc. We already picked a few communities that have proved they can do great things with the Fonera and sent them a test version of our Fonera 2.0.

The Fonera 2.0 will provide a USB connection and users will be able to plug any sort of USB device to it (as long as there’s software support in the firmware, and we invite developers to add support for any device they might think of). The Fonera 2.0 will provide out of the box the ability to connect a hard drive or pendrive to it, so you can access it on your local network and use it to store the contents your Fonera 2.0 will download from the Internet for you. Another interesting feature we are working on is the ability to connect an HSDPA modem to the USB port of the Fonera 2.0, to share an HSDPA connection on the move or where DSL is not available.

We are working hard to make the Fonera 2.0 as open as possible, and we are willing to take all the help the development community can bring to Fon and Foneros. Our users will still have to wait a few months to get their Foneras 2.0, but we’re sure it will be worth the wait."

Martin's Blog Post: The Fonosfera: FON’s development community program and the Fonera 2.0

[UPDATE: 4/15/08]

Looks like Martin is back at it again with ideas for what La Fonera 2.0 could do. Some of them are kind of weird, crazy, stupid, and yet a few are good.

Martin's Blog post: "My ideas for La Fonera 2.0"

[UPDATE: 4/15/08]

Fon Blog: "Fonosfera: The FON Development Community"

Friday, April 11, 2008

FON Raises $9.5 Million

"We are happy to report that at Fon we have raised $9.5 million in a C round. Our current valuation which unfortunately I can´t disclosed has been the best valuation so far. This does not mean that we were not hurt by current market conditions which are pretty bad for start ups (Fon was founded in February 2006). Our leading investor in the round was a US Venture Capital arm of Sistema, Russia´s leading telco but our usual suspects, Google, British Telecom, Digital Garage and of course your blog writer participated in the round.

What are we going to do with the money? Launch Fon in Russia, launch the Fonera 2.0 (the fonera that uploads and downloads stuff to and from the internet while you are doing something else with your laptop) and develop the fonera 802.11n for an end of the year launch.

Unfortunately we will also have to do all this spending less money because this market forces us to do so. We already cut losses at Fon from $1.3 million per month to $800K per month in the last half year and we achieved this through cost reductions, a great reduction in router subsidies and increased revenues with high margins. We plan to do more of the same in the future and my target is to be losing half a million per month by June and to break even by the end of 09. And yes I do know that I should not be telling any of these things because we are a private company but if this blog is of any value to entrepreneurs I believe I must share them with you.

Bottom line: tough market forces you to think harder about everything you do but we are very happy to have closed this C round."

Well, this kind of money will hopefully help FON move on from their current slump. It will be nice to see how the Fonera 2.0 turns out, but I'm worried about the retail price of it is going to be. I have a feeling that the router is going to be a failure, it's going to be too expensive and still have only one LAN port. On the other hand, it will have a USB port (might come in handy, since you will be able to attach a USB storage device). I would rather see some of this money being spent making the Fonera 1.0 better, expanding the FON community, not wasting money on things like Twitxr, developing the Mexican Wave site, paying hot celebrities, and maybe developing firmware for a real router (something like a linksys router). I guess they have a reason to start FON Russia, I don't know, but I'm assuming there is some type of market over there. It doesn't help out the US though. As for the Fonera 802.11n, I don't think there will be a market for it yet or this year as a matter of the fact. Give it time though, just like technology has moved from 802.11b to 802.11g, wireless-n will eventually become the new standard. Anyway, read the techcrunch article and the comments (some of them are pretty interesting and Martin has responded too)


and of course, the community opinion

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The World's Biggest Mexican Wave!

"Together with our partner BT, we are launching The World’s Biggest Mexican Wave, an initiative to raise awareness of the BT FON community, which has been growing really fast and has now more then 70,000 members."

"Anybody can be part of The Biggest Mexican Wave. Joining the wave is very easy, watch some tips on how to film and submit your own (you can use a webcam, a camera or your mobile phone). Once you upload your video you’ll be part of the world’s biggest Mexican wave, watch it on the website and try to spot yourself!"

Martin's Blog: "The World's Biggest Mexican Wave"

Heck, if it works for sporting events, why not FON and BT. Also,

"BT FON has been selected by the judges as a finalist in the Most Innovative Wireless Broadband Company category of the Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards. Vote for BT FON!"

Martin's Blog: "2008 Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards"

Never heard of the Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards, well neither have I, but I guess it is another accomplishment (well, not quite yet?) for FON and BT.

And this raises the question: how is BT Fon going to reach out to the public with this? Well the answer is: Hire a Model...

"The Sun’s coverage of BT FON’s latest campaign. The girl in the photo is Jennifer Metcalfe, star actress in the UK.

Peter Crouch and Jennifer Metcalfe have grabbed their sombreros to spice up the launch of the world’s biggest ever Mexican Wave.

Liverpool striker Crouch and Hollyoaks stunner Metcalfe are promoting BT FON’s fun new campaign which aims to find out which football team in the UK has the most passionate fans.

Bradford babe Metcalfe visited Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s clash with Liverpool to meet who filmed their own, unique Mexican Waves.

To me it is fontastic to see all this going on as BT is showing Fon that if you really want to reach the general public you have to go for themes that are less geeky than ours. Who would not dream of being able to connect to Jennifer Metcalfe´s Fonera?"

Martin's Blog: "BT Fon and how to reach the general public with Fon"

The Sun Article

Hmm... Martin's last line there cracks me up. So what are you just sitting there for. Get up and join in on The World's Biggest Mexican Wave! And heres why...

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Think FON is ______ (Fill in the Blank)

I was a bit surprised to read a post on Martin V's blog entitled "Why do some Foneros disconnect their Fonera WiFi router?" Then after reading some of the comments (some of them are pretty good) and reading a recent entry on El Fon Blog, I decided to give my take on it. (There are other complaints that can be found in my blog)

I'll make this short and simple:

La Fonera is a wireless ONLY router and if you want ONE lan port be prepared to fork out 50 bucks. For only $60 after rebate you can get a Linksys WRT54GL that had four lan ports and a much better deal.

Personally where I live, there are only like 5 FON Spots around and I have never tried to access them because they are too far out of the way for me to get to. Also, it doesn't help that I live in a city that if I need wifi I can just head onto the college campus or go to some other place (like Dunkin Donuts) and get free wifi access.

I have only had one or two aliens log into my FON Spot (repeatedly) just to use the 15 minutes of free access. They did this for about a month or two, and then I blocked them using the FreeWLAN addons, but later unblocked them. For the first time I had a Fonero log into my FON Spot last month after it has been up and running for about a year.

I personally don't care for the idea that anyone can use my internet access to download all kinds of who knows what and have no control over it. This makes me responsible for illegal downloading, porn, and more. I use openDNS to block certain websites, but there is not much more I can do.

Unencrypted wifi . . . need I say anymore.

The firmware on the router is ____. I really can't explain it, but the FreeWLAN addons help out a little. The original firmware works perfect for me, but from what I have read on the boards, many people have problems installing and setting up their Foneras. Sometimes (once a month or so) I have to power cycle my router just for it to show up as "online" and the FON website.

The Fontenna, kind of works. I noticed a little bit of a gain with it, but it's not worth $20. For those who got it for $2, your lucky because now the cheapest you can get it is for $10. I'm glad I got mine for free. I think it's a poorly constructed antenna to begin with and it doesn't help that the cable for it is like 10 feet long.

DD WRT. . . need I say anymore, again.

I quit now, I'm sure there is a ton more to complain about (I don't want to get into stuff that I don't know what I'm talking about), but I'm not going to bother. I have and will keep my Fonera up and running as long as FON exists. Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of FON, some things need to be changed. The next episode of FON wifi, FON will ________...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Expecting new stuff from FON, lets see what the future holds

I have a suspicion that we might me expecting something from FON within the next couple of months.

First FON is starting a new beta testers program (at least in the US), information can be found on the forums. Don't bother trying to get in, everything is closed as of now until "the new firmware is ready to roll out" and they are ready to get more testers. Its hard to tell when this is going to start, this topic started in mid February.

Second, on the forums again, a picture of the "new router" was posted. Its hard to tell if its real or not, but it was posted by a moderator.

And last, Martin posted about a hacked fonerabot. In the comments of the post, somebody asked why doesn't FON "release a development firmware of Fonera..." and Martin's response was "In the next 90 days we will!"

What's going on over at FON, I personally want to find out. FON first came out with the Linksys router, then La Fonera, then La Fontenna, and most recently (about July 2007) La Fonera +. Could this be the "FON Liberator" or "La Fonera 2.0," it's like "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, the world may never know" and I leave it at that. . .

search the forums for the others.

[UPDATE: 4/4/2008]

Wow, its true. La Fonera 2.0 (the one with the USB port) will be coming out sometime this year. I thought that it couldn't be true at first, but a few things came up on a blog and the German FON Blog.

Here's what it said on the German FON Blog. 30 of the routers were sent out for alpha testing and that round of testing has been closed. (both sites need to be translated using google)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New FON Promo codes, Save on La Fonera or La Fonera +

Save $15 on La Fonera (comes to $24.95 after shipping) code: A365391948608881
Save $10 on La Fonera + (comes to $49.95 after shipping) code: A801939721353896

(The promotion code for La Fonera could expire at any time, if you look at the terms and agreements it says it expires in January 30, 2008. This code is the same that I previously posted, its just now valid again)

Keep an eye out on the right hand side of my blog under "Current FON News!" for up to date information, promotion codes, and more!