Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boingo Tariff Optimized for Mobile Use Case

Boingo Wireless has created a new tariff aimed squarely at Nokia smart phone and tablet users. The new Boingo Mobile tariff means users of a half dozen Nokia devices automatically can connect to Boingo’s network for $7.95 a month (€5.95 or £3.95). Compatible devices include the N800, N810, N95, N91, E611 and E51.

The significance, it seems to me, is that Boingo is among the first broadband access providers to provide an actual consumer offer that matches many instances of the mobile device Web use case. Where a lap top user might reasonably expect to park at a hot spot for 30 minutes, a mobile user walking on the street might expect to use a Web application for three minutes. And a user might only require the access a few times a month.

So the issue really is matching the perceived value of the connection time, compared to the tariff. At some point, similar thinking will need to be applied to Wi-Fi-enabled devices of other sorts, such as cameras. It sometimes is useful or pleasing to be able to take a picture and send a picture right away. But the typical user is going to evaluate the cost of being able to do so in a different way than he or she would evaluate a monthly bucket of voice and data.

The other interesting angle is just how far one can push the ad hoc, partly available network idea. In the extreme, can one create a use case for devices that only operate on Wi-Fi? Though generally unappetizing for a voice device, are there scenarios where it works well enough for broadband Web access applications?

Also, what are the niches for dual-mode mobiles able to use wireless networks and Wi-Fi, but whose owners opt not to buy full-coverage, unlimited or large data plans? In other words, is Wi-Fi coveratge at home, in the office and at public locations satisfy a use case for enough potential users to create a sizable business?

1 comment:

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