WiFi inflation?

My local Starbucks has a new WiFi service called a hotspot, a national partnership of all of the major Canadian carriers. That means that I can use a single service wherever I go, which makes a lot more sense that the piecemeal services that existed before. My provider – Rogers – doesn’t list the price except for this cryptic note:

Hotspot sessions are billed in full minute increments at a rate of 15? per minute from the time you connect to the time you disconnect.

Bell does though:

» $7.50 for 1 hour
» $13 for 24 hours*
» $25 for an unlimited monthly subscription

Though online in Starbucks it said $35 per month.

Strangely, the service used to be $4.95 per hour with the previous provider. Is there some reason network costs would be going up? Really, we are talking about a single connection, perhaps $75 per month, and a couple of wireless routers here, maybe a few hundred dollars in total expenditures. $7.50 an hour seems a bit ridiculous. Is the goal to convince people to begin to use the service long term, or turn a huge and immediate short term profit?

Seriously, when I go to Starbucks I stay for around an hour. Am I really going to pay $7.50 to use the internet when I’m there, if I don’t absolutely have to? And I just don’t spend enough time in hotspot areas to justify the monthly subscription – my use is too unpredictable. Now if they were to blanket the city then maybe I would.

My local Williams Coffee makes coffee almost as well as Starbucks in a similar atmosphere, but the WiFi is free. You get your coffee, sit down, open the laptop, and you’re working. Guess who’s been getting a lot more of my business lately.

An anniversary at Redknee.

Today I’ve been working with Redknee for one whole year. Time flies when you’re having fun, and even when you’re not.

For those who don’t know, Redknee is a medium size (~300 people) wireless infrastructure software company based in Mississauga, Canada. The website says this:

Redknee’s next-generation software delivers innovative services to over 25 top tier network operators, with over 185 million subscribers worldwide. Redknee’s global headquarters are located in Toronto, Canada.

I’ll probably have a little more to say when I’m more awake.

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You are not important to us.

I read about ma.gnolia, a new search tool, over at TechCrunch and I thought I’d take a look. Of course they’re pre-launch, so they are only accepting you email address so that they can notify you when they are ready.

But… they also ask you to enter your V.I.P. Code. There is no mention of this anywhere, and I don’t have a V.I.P. Code that I know of.

So on my first visit to the site, the first message I get from this company is I’m not important to them.

I’m sure when they launch all of the usual suspects will rave about them. And the average users – the ones that make up this democratic web – won’t really matter.

Unfortunately you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Fair use.

Donna Wentworth at Copyfight has aggregated some thoughts about Google Print. The prevailing opinion, with which I agree, is thet Google Print falls into the category of fair use. There is also a feeling that authors and publishers aren’t really clear on what Google is actually doing, but suing before the problem is proven seems a bit premature.

Yes Google may make some more money as a result. Is making money somehow evil now?

Hollywood math.

The LA Times asks:

How can a hit television series like “Frasier” gross $1.5 billion and yet be $200 million in the red?

Two talent agencies are suing Paramount Pictures to find out how an Emmy-winning sitcom than ran for 11 seasons never turned a net profit despite being one of the most successful shows in television history:

Since then, the suit states, the agents have been keeping an eye on the accounting behind “Frasier.” The suit claims that Paramount has reported collecting more than $1.5 billion in gross revenues for “Frasier.” That includes almost $830 million in network licensing fees paid by NBC.

Yet “Paramount has taken the position with the [plaintiffs] that the series has never produced ‘net profits’ under Paramount’s definition of the term and that the series has actually lost over $200 million according to its latest calculations,” the suit says.

If they lose that much on a successful show, I wonder how much they lose on a flop.

School? Or investment bank?

In today’s New York Times Ben Stein, a Yale alumnus, notes the size of Yale’s endowment. Ok I couldn’t resist a little humor. Mr. Stein asks if Yale has $11 billion in the bank, does his meager contribution really matter?

Gifts of these sizes are virtually meaningless to Yale, so why bother giving to it? My resources are very far from limitless, so why not give where it makes a difference?

Is it possible that giving to Yale right now is a bit like giving gifts to Goldman Sachs or Brown Brothers Harriman? I am sure that there are fine people in those places, and investment bankers are almost always intelligent, hard-working men and women. I enjoy their company. But they really don’t need my money, and other people do.

I love Yale, and I am deeply grateful to Yale. It is a star in my sky every day and night. But at this point, is it an investment bank or a school? I am really not sure, and this troubles me. I would love to be shown that I am wrong, but I am not certain that I am.

It’s not about technology.

In response to John Battelle’s musing about why Google is pulling so far ahead of competitors, Robert Scoble says it’s just because Microsoft isn’t as good yet. He suggests that it’s all about best of breed products and services.

Or is it? A couple of paragraphs later he says that it isn’t about search:

See, Google isn’t a search company. It’s in the audience aggregation business. Get an audience together and then figure out how to serve advertising to that audience. Lots of people think Google is a search company. It’s not.

Best of breed technology never really matters. If it did, people would have Beta and not VHS. Microsoft wouldn’t exist either, because their products were never the best of breed, but improved over time.

Nobody cares about better technology. To make people switch from Google there needs to be a quantum leap. Something bigger, better, faster, or radically different in the way it meets my needs. Google seems to get that idea and is just providing me more and more services, and people are using them. Google Maps mashups are a perfect example. Are there any MSN mashups?

He also comments on what Google wants:

Google just wants to make sure they have the biggest audience (and smartest, and richest, and youngest).

Smartest, youngest, and richest is just wrong. Wal-Mart makes a boatload of money, but it doesn’t need the smartest, youngest, and richest audience. Retirees are probably one of the fastest growing segments so I wouldn’t ignore them either. Biggest is important, but only in the sense that the bigger the audience, the more ways to slice it demographically and sell to it.

Google is pretty good at giving people what they want, and they are very good at allowing advertisers to target those people. It’s as simple as that.