Continuing from the previous post, please consider:

Rethinking the iPhone’s Role in Computing
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2348658,00.asp

Is the iPhone a personal computer that just happens to make phone calls, or a phone that just happens to run apps? And if it’s really a PC that fits in your pocket, does that change how you use it?

Several subtle design decisions that makes iPhone Internet surfing experience much better:

  1. By not including a keypad/keyboard altogether, the screen can be larger and phone be lighter

  2. The touch-screen design (which acts like a mouse in PC) with nice UI. Since iPhone isn’t designed to work with a stylus, user can operate using one hand. Also, UI focuses more on “swipe” or “gesture” (i.e. multi-touch) action instead of pinpoint button clicking (current Windows Mobile version still does that a lot), it feels more native to a small-screen phone and greatly improves the Internet surfing experience

  3. accelerometer makes it easier to surf the Internet in landscape mode

In a sense, iPhone innovates a lot in the Internet experience but gives up a bit on the normal phone experience (by giving up a keypad). After the pioneering work of iPhone, lots of smartphones borrow the design ideas and really make the smartphone a viable platform for Internet surfing. In fact, we are seeing smartphone becoming more important in the Wi-Fi Hotspot market.

With the increase popularity of smartphone in the hotspot segment, it creates both opportunity and technical challenge for hotspot management solution vendor like FirstSpot. The main technical challenge for us is the delivery of message to the hotspot users (which we will discuss in future posting).

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There are probably many statistics in the Internet to confirm this. But based on our experience from FirstSpot, iPhone is really the first smartphone widely used in Wi-Fi Hotspot. In fact, before iPhone, we rarely encounter any technical issues/requests from smartphone “client”. Most of the FirstSpot-powered Hotspot serves client devices originating from PC and PDA. So the old version (like FirstSpot v4), apart from PC browser, we mainly test Windows Mobile (which powered most of the PDA in the “past”).

BTW,  we see the decline in PDA usage and in fact Windows Mobile is moving more to smartphone too.

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Interesting article from New York Times about Wi-Fi plan at hotels :

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/travel/10pracwifi.html?_r=1

From the feedback from our FirstSpot customers , many budget and midscale hotels uses Wi-Fi service as a way to differentiate from bigger hotel. While some of the them offers free Wi-Fi, they use FirstSpot for various control and tracking mechanism like bandwidth throttling and logging.The key is that Wi-Fi is a necessity for all level of hotels. Also, our new In-Browser Message feature can provide a additional channel for hotel to commnuiicate with their customers.

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We finally release our long await FirstSpot v6 beta 1 at the end of April.

We manage squeeze in many features. But one of them we definitely want to highlight is “In-browser Message”. Our vision in the hotspot market is that it’s business model focus go through several phase:

1) direct payment (e.g. credit card)

2) indirect payment (e.g. consume a product, then get a prepaid card for access for 60 minutes)

3) value-added hotspot (e.g. message broadcast, advertisement)

We feel that we are at the early stage of phase 3 right now. Part of the reason it is early stage is that the technology is quite new. FirstSpot’s In-Browser Message feature is one of the first (if not the only) hotspot management software in the world to support this.

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