Yeah, my previous post was ironic. I think most people sensed this, but I wanted to see what other people were thinking by way of the comments.
A new survey appearing in the english discussion board has moved me to write out these thoughts below. I thought it would make a reasonable “final” post for 2006:
On it’s present course, in 2007, Fon will miss its (probable) goal of being sold for profit. Fon has failed to develop any unique technology, business plan or social portal that makes it worth aquiring. Fon has set an excellent example of how to *cough* alienate, by poorly manipulating its once-enthusiastic members, and trying to regain the attention of the now-suspicious Press with a string of vaporware announcements. To Fon’s credit, they have demonstrated that a signifigant number of people are interested in sharing their broadband, with or without profit, under the promise (or illusion?) of experienced management and technological security.
Other wifi movements will have to retrace some of the paths that Fon has taken, as I feel that Fon did not entirely go in the wrong direction, but went without any consideration for it’s “companions” and under false pretenses. Fon never intended to reach the destination with the companions they set out with, which is why they repeatedly ask them to wait while they go off into the “woods” alone, without giving meaningful reasons or returning within a reasonable time.
By 2008, Fon will be sold at a loss, or cease to be. Perhaps Fon will retreat into a tiny remaining market, or maintain a skeleton crew to service a number of municipal clients who may possess resources to demand continued support. La Fonera routers will be obsolete technology by then, but there will be individuals who continue to use them with or without original firmware (remember, unlike the Linksys, La Fonera still provides the private SSID if it can’t find Fon. Preparing for the inevitable?).
Many small communities and hobbyists may continue to collect and use quantities of La Foneras using Meraki or other firmware along with a collection of other router models. They will be using open-source authentication and profit sharing systems that do what Fon had seemed to promise, but succeed by being flexible to meet a variety of needs in a variety of environments instead of by imposing terms and restrictions to keep people trapped.
These communities will function as meritocracies which attract superior participation by providing platform compatability solutions and hosting an active community of volunteer testers and developers who address and solve flaws in full view of the public. In other words, these things which have continued to galvanize the Fonero community, despite Fon’s neglect or outright opposition.
The world is growing tired of being tricked into overlooking details and placing trust in organizations which then work on their real plans in secrecy. Fon should have known better than to try this with the group of adept and outspoken hobbyists they first appealed to.
Can Fon change for the better? Does Fon have enough time left to adjust their system in order to meet the needs which exist and compete in a world where their unnegotiable access fee and unfair sharing plans fail to provide positive incentive? Absolutely, yes. Unfortunately, Fon can neither regain, nor do they deserve, our future trust.