The Race to Connect - WiFi v 4G
The announcement of China Unicom, China Mobile and the red headed stepchild of Chinese telcos beginning to launch 4G networks throughout China brought to mind the age old question. Which is better … WiFi or 3G/4G networks?
Being an American, I am tied to telco’s for everything calling and data. Born during the dominance of of Bells landlines and growing up in the advent of the mobile age, they are programmed into my thinking. Asian and even European and Latin American regions, however, while slightly behind are rapidly catching up to the dynamic technology that drives American connectivity.
What has reared its head in America and even more prevalent in Europe is the WiFi network. These seemingly open and mobile (to a degree) networks can be accessed much more easily by the common man with little interference from telcos. But why hasn’t the sharing economy and the massive level of control and potential monetary savings caused Wi-Fi to become king? Why haven’t companies like Fon, Boingo, Karma and Clear taken over our connectivity and made telcos obsolete?
As we can see from Clears purchase by Sprint and Fon’s defining partnership with BT … telcos are hedging their position in the market and making moves to establish their presence. This unfortunately hinders the truly open sharing economy potential of WiFi, but there still is potential. Sadly, we may never reap the benefits of a democratized and unregulated WiFi network.
It remains to be seen whether Europe networks see the same fate, but VoIP and messaging takes potential revenue away from telcos and as telcos gouge for data charges … WiFi is the logical and scalable answer. The questions are … how rapidly can the networks scale across the first and third world and does it come at a cost or scale the innovations in the sharing economy?
A lot of brands don’t make it because in the process of trying to get many things right, they don’t get anything right. …
I’ve seen many startups try to tackle an entire industry / marketplace from inception, fully expecting to succeed. Most of the time these are ambitious early stage startups, built by young guns with eyes bigger than their skillsets.
The mindset shouldn’t be … find your market and built the products to enter the market … which is the mindset of most companies that think they can tackle 5 products in a difficult marketplace all at once. The mindset & process should be … (1) find a problem, (2) understand its place in the market, (3) speak to the target users, (4)THEN AND ONLY THEN plot out the solution to that problem, (5) from there you can build your empire if all goes well. At that point you should also have a product road-map set with potential future products, but only build the foundational product. From that point your responsibility is to simply monitor the market to plan the potential development and launching of the next piece of the service potential.
Its much better to know you’re the company that does X, so can establish the product and build the reputation on which to eventually launch the next products / services. The alternative is to be that company that does that thing and had that article written, but also has this other service and might to this other thing and then they’re also a consultancy … annnnnnnd who gives a shit.
Do one thing and do it right … build your brand on a solid foundation and consistent message. Rome and LinkedIn weren’t built in a day, and certainly a 20/30 something with a dime a dozen MBA won’t build an empire easily either.
Whether you are in the freelance economy, sharing economy, enterprise or social, community is (in my opinion) the most overlooked piece of the puzzle. This is especially true for newer enterprises looking to either enter a highly competitive market or creating a new offshoot market.
The power of community is essentially the strength of a businesses foundation. In the beginning these are the early adopters, but if approached correctly they become the evangelist of growth and rationalization.
Look at foursquare, salesforce, apple, and even the American Cancer Association … the reason for their success is a highly mobilized and passionate core community evangelizing what they are passionate about as well as anterior communities that also gets engaged to lesser but equally important extents.
The thought that someone can merely build a product and offer a service without passionately, non commercially and openly developing and engaging a community shows a massive disconnect with their customers, an egotistical growth plan and a fundamental lack of foresight of the nature of the 21st century economy (as a result of social networking & the financial crisis).
Your community will support you, guide you, empower you and evangelize you … and at the end of the day having passion for a product is as equally motivating as having equity and skin in the game. Trust your users, engage your users, love your users because one user becomes a community of early adopters, which becomes a catalyst for global growth, scalability and regional physical community growth.