Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Wild, Wild, World of Wi-Fi

About 2 years ago, I had left a very high-paying consulting job to start my own company. To make a long story short, our company didn't make it - for various reasons - but while there I discovered Wireless Networking, and realized it's great potential.

Initially, I thought that the big money was going to be in running pay-for-use hotspots. I even had a pre-startup job interview with Andrew Weinrich, the founder of six-degrees and Joltage Networks. But as written about in today's Wall Street Journal, the big players in the industry have swallowed that up. I also thought to start a Wi-Fi installation company, but the reality is that it would be almost impossible to get off the ground. Large integrators would easily set up Wi-Fi divisions for their own customers, minimizing the corporate base, and Wi-fi networks are so simple that they practically work out of the box - eliminating the need for most home users to hire somone to install it for them.

Aye, but here is the rub - chip price are on the wane, and people are realizing more and more that Wi-Fi will soon become an expected amenity - like a glass of water or napkins - at most restaurants and/or hotels. Those folks who sell wi-fi hardware and access will realize that they chance to make more money from wi-fi by giving it away and letting their customers linger in-store and buy more goods from them. (Starbucks might make 2.99 on an hour of wi-fi, but if they give it away for free I might stay an extra hour and buy a second $5 latte!)

The real money to be made in the wi-fi industry, IMVHO, will be made in one of two ways - a)Value added software for wi-fi, such as location-based services. b)Consumer Devices that take advantage of embedded wi-fi - such as wireless speakers, and phones.

I should save this blog in a time capsule and then check it again in 2 years :)

No comments: