Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fon Article in New York Times

There was a recent article in the New York Times written by John Markoff entitled "Global Dreams for a Wireless Web" featuring Fon and its founder Martin Varsavsky. I would comment on it, but I think I will skip that for now. Some linkage for your reading pleasure:

Martin's Blog: "John Markoff´s great article on Fon"

Fon Blog: "FON Featured in the New York Times"

New York Times: "Global Dreams for a Wireless Web"

EDIT: It seems El Fon Blog decided to comment on the article

El Fon Blog: "NYT Article Flubs FON Statistics"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fon's latest (fake) economic figures

Well it seems like after some controversy, even though we still know that these numbers are a lie, Martin decided to release information about the number of active hotspots, number of foneros, and total revenue that Fon has pulled in.

"Revenues at Fon last month were slightly over 100K euros. Gross margins are over 70%. Cash burn which was over a million euros during December was down to 480K euros in April and is going down to 350K euros in June. This puts us on target to be profitable in the last quarter of 2009. Number of registered Foneros is at 830,000. Number of registered hotspots is 332,000 and of active hotspots at anytime has gone up to 212,000 around the world up from 145,000 in December. Last week we added 6000 hotspots and we are on target to have 300K hotspots by year end. Headcount is 61 employees around the world which is remarkable for a company that is managing the largest and fastest growing WiFi network in the world. Our top countries are UK, France, Japan, Germany, USA, Taiwan, Spain and Italy."

Martin's blog: "Fon latest figures"

Fon Boards: "Economical Data"

El Fon Blog: "Fon Math 2008"

What I find interesting from all of this, besides the fact that we can not verify this information and never will (go figure), is the number of active hotspots compared to the total number of registered hotspots. Approximately 36% of the routers registered are inactive. What the heck is going on here Martin. First, you question the public on "Why do some Foneros disconnect their Fonera WiFi router?" and now you confirm that more than one third of your company is wasted. This absolutly astounds me and the numbers that he gives us still don't tell the whole story. First, he says "up to 212,000 active hotspots" and second we don't know how many total routers were sold. I'm sure if we take into consideration the average number of active hotspots (which is probably less than 212,000) and the total number of routers sold, that 36% of inactive Fon routers will increase significantly. Of course, Fon will not disclose this information or they can kiss of their investors (and their money) goodbye.

Again check out the Fon boards link I posted above. Since we can not verify any of this information, I really don't know what to think of all of this. I think everything boils down to quality not quantity. If we can't access the Fon hotspot, we might as well just not even count it as being active. From what I know, FrancoFon keeps track of the number of hotspots, and their numbers come up different from Martins. The El Fon Blog post (link above) discusses this, I don't know much about it and I don't want to misinterpret information.

FrancoFon: "count 206,886 registered Fon hotspots, not 332,000 or 198,366. FrancoFon has determined that 95,324 Fon hotspots are active, (but who knows if they are accessible?) not 212,000."

This means that 46% of the total hotspots are inactive! So who do we believe in the end? It seems to me that Fon once again is hiding information that only they will ever know. I encourage you to read the three links I posted above and remember this information when you keep you Fon router on and have trouble finding an active Fon hotspot to connect to.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fon in Japan and Hong Kong

Its amazing how big FON is over in Japan and Hong Kong. I know some of this information is a couple months, but I think it is still worth mentioning. Anyway, it shows that Fon does work in some places and with the right marketing and partnerships, Fon can flourish around the world. Something like this can actually increase the number of Fon hotspots (so that Fon doesn't have to fudge the numbers to look good for their investors).

The first thing that I present to you is, World’s first FON-enabled high-rise building in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I really don't know too much about the building, but it is full of restaurants and bars. This seems like a very ideal place for people to go especially if you are looking for cheap wifi access. Also, FON Hong Kong was awarded the Caring Company logo 2007-2008 for its efforts to give back to the community.

Martins Blog: "World’s first FON-enabled high-rise building

Fon Blog: "An update from Hong Kong"

Now on to Fon Japan. Now what amazes me is that 80% of Tokyo is covered by Fon Wifi and there are over 31,000 Fon hotspots in Japan. Now, we all know how Fon makes up numbers for the count of active Fon hotspots (we're not going to discuss that, but it shows up on the forums every once in a while when people start complaining about not finding wifi access). Fon, from what I know, has always been quite large in Japan, but now it is even larger since Fon has partnered up with Livedoor. Livedoor is some type of commercial hotspot slash wifi operation. What I find interesting is some of the comments on Martins blog about this:

A post by freechelmi:

"Martin, I read some news around telling FOn has 700000 spots worldwide ? How do you count this before giving numbers to journalists? I see only 70000 roughly TOP 20 in the World.

Let’s talk about online spots only .

that would be great if everybody would talk about the same kind of information regarding coverage."

A Post by yvan:


that’s bullshit

I live in tokyo, I am a livedoor wifi subscriber and I have a palmtop wifi device so I can tell you that the actual coverage of the FON+LIVEDOOR network is probably less than 1%. I’d like to know what is the meaning of the 80%? area? population?

Anyway, I’m always checking the available networks in the streets, in coffeeshop, etc… and I almost never see a FON or LIVEDOOR hotspot.

My guess is that maybe 80% of the population in downtown tokyo can find a hotspot in his neighbourhood…, but he has to take his laptop with him and go there."

Martins blog: "Tokyo 80% covered!"

It also seems that the Fon boards confirm that "Tokyo livedoor is a joke"


Moving on to Fon night in Japan. It was "an event to celebrate and thank Foneros, bloggers, media and corporate partners in Japan. I introduced the event and we gave an update on FON’s success in the country, our second most popular country after the UK, but the first in terms of connected foneras." Seems like the purpose of this was for Fon to meet up with partners and companies and to show off products.

Martins blog: "Fon night in Japan"

Finally FON Japan and Seven Seas Techworks have partnered up to give free Foneras and ipod touches to students. "Students will get an iPod Touch to access content and services like their class schedule, study materials, attendance management system. They will also be able to watch videos of the classes they missed, study the materials they received and look for job offers on their iPod touch." This seems like a great way to not only promote Fon (and Apple), but get technology involved in the classroom. I personally think its a brilliant idea and something like this would work in many colleges and universities. (except I don't think Apple will just give away ipods, but that's beside the point) Again this shows how Fon Japan is way ahead of the game. More things like this need to happen all around the world in order for Fon to thrive. Martin needs to get his game together if he plans of making Fon the best that it can be.

Martins blog: "Foneras and iPod Touch for students in Japan"

A little side note: I realized today that I seem to be commenting on Martins Blog too much, but it doesn't matter to me. If anyone reading this finds interesting stuff on the internet (websites, news articles, gadgets, etc. let me know about it and your opinion). I try to search for stuff, but at times it can be hard. Anyway the one purpose of this blog is to be the one place that you can go to for all of your Fon news and thats what I seem to be striving towards.

Have Fon, everybody!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FON is paying you earlier!

There has been some people on the English Fon boards that have been complaining about the $30 payout limit, it doesn't make a difference to me (since I have only made $1.50 from 15 minutes free trials), but for some it might make a difference.