Mark Bridge writes:
Being an optimistic cynic isn’t easy. But, hey, I do my best.
Which is why I smiled benignly when I heard this week that WiFi provider The Cloud was offering a free app to O2 iPhone users. It's a simple tool called FastConnect and it'll make it easy for those O2 customers to find free WiFi access via hotspots powered by (you guessed it!) The Cloud.
FastConnect's features include a directory and automatic connection to all The Cloud's WiFi hotspots.
Except... hang on a mo... O2 UK iPhone customers already get free WiFi from The Cloud. And the iPhone is famously easy to use. So why has The Cloud bothered to create this app?
Here's what Steve Nicholson, The Cloud's CEO, has to say.
“We strongly suspect only a fraction of O2 iPhone customers are aware of this free service and would consequently encourage them to download the app from the app store to get quick and free access to our network.”
A-ha. So most of O2's iPhone users – either through accident or design – don't care about their free WiFi. Yet they're still going online. And that means they're probably hammering O2's data service. Not a good thing, as O2 has already admitted.
Which brings me to today's puzzle. Now, you might think that each O2 customer who didn't use free WiFi was good news for The Cloud. Unused capacity is money saved, right? Which would mean The Cloud had little incentive to encourage uptake of the free offer. Yet here's 'WiFi made simple', with CEO Steve promoting WiFi as “the only solution in delivering an acceptable service” for mobile video and even daring to knock his mobile network mates by suggesting “that traditional cellular networks will struggle to deliver acceptable quality”.
So... whose idea was this app? O2, I'm just asking...