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A Brilliant Idea For Making Money By Giving Away Wi-Fi

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: A Brilliant Idea For Making Money By Giving Away Wi-Fi
2. Today's Top Story
    - Islamic Messages Deface Hundreds Of Danish Sites
    - Microsoft Says Kama Sutra Overblown
    - Spyware Triples During 2005
3. Breaking News
    - Jobs Report: Salaries Up For The Highly Skilled
    - Bush Proposes $64 Billion Federal IT Budget
    - Internet Expected To Influence Nearly Half Of Total Retail Sales
    - Intel Turns On Virtualization Technology In 'Paxville' Processors
    - Apple Offers 1GB iPod Nano For $149
    - HP To Acquire OuterBay
    - Intel Seeks Rebound In PDA Processors
    - Oracle Lifts Lid On Transportation Management
    - First Person: Point-Of-Sale Becomes Pop Culture At The Apple Store
4. Grab Bag
    - Hotels Offer Incentives For Positive Reviews On Travel Sites
    - Agencies Track Internet Afterlife For Super Bowl Ads
    - Blowing the Horn for Other People's Blogs
    - Robotic Toys Take Stage at Demo Conference
5. In Depth: Internet Business
    - Google, Telecom Execs Stir Up The Internet Access Debate On Capitol Hill
    - AOL, Yahoo Plan To Launch Paid Certified E-Mail Service
    - Demo To Feature Search, E-Mail, RSS Tools
    - Welcome To The Blogosphere: Population 27.2 Million And Growing
    - Google Embeds IM Into E-Mail
6. Voice Of Authority
    - GM's Outsourcing Risk: Vendor 'Dream Team' Can't Be Anything Less Than Gold Medalists
7. White Papers
    - Single Sign-on: Putting An End To The Password-Management Nightmare
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein." -- Joe Theismann


1. Editor's Note: A Brilliant Idea For Making Money By Giving Away Wi-Fi

You know one of the things that make it great to be me? I've been doing this business-technology journalism thing for 17 years now, and still, every once in a while, I stumble across something that makes me want to exclaim, "Brilliant!"

For example: Fon is working to build a volunteer network of Wi-Fi hot-spots. The idea is that anybody can download software, install it on their Wi-Fi access points, and run a public-access hot-spot on the Fon network.

Fon is now in beta, but when it rolls out, it plans to offer three tiers of service: "Aliens" are just plain customers, no different from people who subscribe to public-access, paid Wi-Fi networks like the T-Mobile service.

So far, nothing new there. But here's where it starts to get brilliant.

The second level of service is called "Bill," named for Bill Gates. These are people who are renting out their Wi-Fi hot-spots, through Fon. The Aliens of the world use Wi-Fi provided by Bills, and Fon and the owners of the access point split the proceeds.

What that means is: You know the access point in your guest bedroom? The one that your partner says is horribly ugly and clashes with the curtains? The one that sits there and collects cat hair all week? You can be making money off of that thing!

Isn't that brilliant?

The third level of Fon membership is called Linus, for Linus Torvalds, who invented Linux. Linus members share their Wi-Fi access for free, and are entitled to use other Fon access points for free.

Another thing that makes Fon brilliant is that they have an admirably playful marketing sense. A playful marketing plan won't make a losing company a winner. (I saw the Pets.com sock puppet panhandling for Snausages on a street corner the other day; it was heartbreaking.) But it can push a good company over the top, by capturing consumers' fancies.

Fon still has several obstacles. First: Is it legal? Many consumer Internet service providers have strict rules against sharing connections.

If that hurdle can be surmounted, it's still unknown whether the business model will work. Sure, Fon's business plan is brilliant, but lots of business ideas that seem brilliant shrivel and die in the real world.

One of the reasons that brilliant business ideas fail is that they simply run out of money. Fon got some help clearing that hurdle this week when it got $21.7 million funding from companies including Google and Vonage.

What do you think? Will Fon succeed? What other crazy, brilliant business ideas are in their infancy on the Internet? Leave a message on the InformationWeek Weblog and let us know.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Islamic Messages Deface Hundreds Of Danish Sites
Muslim protests over editorial cartoons originally published by a Danish newspaper have spilled onto the Internet.

Related Stories:

Microsoft Says Kama Sutra Overblown
A manager of Microsoft's antivirus development team warned that overhyping threats could lead to a "cry wolf" syndrome where future alerts aren't taken seriously.

Spyware Triples During 2005
Spyware tripled during 2005, became ever-more sophisticated and stealthy, and attached itself to U.S. computers at rates above any other country, a security company says.


3. Breaking News

Jobs Report: Salaries Up For The Highly Skilled
The Yoh Index of Technology Wages reported Monday that IT wages increased 3.1% overall in the fourth quarter of 2005 over the like quarter in the previous year. Oracle database experts and SAP specialists are among the higher-paid workers.

Bush Proposes $64 Billion Federal IT Budget
The slight increase would mostly benefit civil agencies, with the Defense Department's budget remaining flat.

Internet Expected To Influence Nearly Half Of Total Retail Sales
Within four years, 71% of people with a Web connection will use the Internet to shop, compared with 65% last year, JupiterResearch says.

Intel Turns On Virtualization Technology In 'Paxville' Processors
The idea is to shift some of the heavy lifting necessary to run multiple operating systems from software to the Xeon processor.

Apple Offers 1GB iPod Nano For $149
Apple Computer unveiled a 1-Gbyte iPod nano for $149 Tuesday, filling out the flash-memory-based nano family on the low-price end.

HP To Acquire OuterBay
OuterBay's archiving software could help boost Hewlett-Packard's database performance by as much as 80%, the firm claims.

Intel Seeks Rebound In PDA Processors
The chipmaker is looking to regain its footing in the processor market for PDAs -- a business that is heating up again, according to IC Insights.

Oracle Lifts Lid On Transportation Management
Oracle on Tuesday unveiled Oracle Transportation Management, a platform which provides visibility into the flow of goods across the supply chain.

First Person: Point-Of-Sale Becomes Pop Culture At The Apple Store
Heather Clancy gets a backstage pass to an Apple Store on opening night, and learns how retail space becomes a pop-culture hit.

All our latest news

John Soat with "Tough News" in the current episode of The News Show.
Fed budget increases IT spending, Google boots BMW and Ricoh and blogs -- everyone's got one...

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

Eric Chabrow with "Payroll Realities"
Payrolls at IT services and software companies are on the rise while payrolls are down at computer makers.

Lori MacVittie with "Patent Loss Poses Problem"
Microsoft's recent patent loss may complicate things for users of Office Professional.

Peter Gorenstein with "Super Bowl R.O.I"
Advertisers make Super Bowl XL ads available for free on several Websites.


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4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web

Hotels Offer Incentives For Positive Reviews On Travel Sites (New York Times)
Web sites that publish hotel reviews from guests are becoming more influential, and some chains are cheating to beat the game.

Agencies Track Internet Afterlife For Super Bowl Ads (New York Times)
Madison Avenue is monitoring downloads and online discussion of the more than 50 commercials that appeared during Super Bowl XL on Sunday.

Blowing the Horn For Other People's Blogs (New York Times)
A number of blogs and Web sites devoted to travel issues carve out niches that simply do not exist in print or broadcast travel journalism.

Robotic Toys Take Stage At DEMO Conference (Yahoo News)
Sony may have put its Aibo robotic dogs to sleep, but the inventor of the popular Furby toy said on Tuesday the market for toy animatrons is anything but extinct.


5. In Depth: Internet Business

Google, Telecom Execs Stir Up The Internet Access Debate On Capitol Hill
The issue is network neutrality: Should telecom and cable companies charge premiums for companies such as Google and Skype that benefit from broadband pipes?

AOL, Yahoo Plan To Launch Paid Certified E-Mail Service
Companies will be able to pay to bypass spam filters and get their messages delivered directly to users' in-boxes. Critics say the service is a step backward, and violates the spirit of the Internet.

Demo To Feature Search, E-Mail, RSS Tools
The annual conference focuses on live demos of innovative technology; products and services debuting this week include a search engine for software developers that looks for source code and technical specs on the Web; and the debut of a vendor offering enterprise software for companies with 10 or fewer employees.

Welcome To The Blogosphere: Population 27.2 Million And Growing
A new blog is created every second and the phenomenon has grown 60 times larger than it was three years ago, says Technorati in its periodic State of the Blogosphere report.

Google Embeds IM Into E-Mail
Seeking to play catch up in the instant messaging market, Google is offering a new service that embeds IM into its existing E-mail. Ditching the technical divide that exists between browsers and messaging software will let users chat from a Google Web-browser window, alongside their E-mails.


6. Voice Of Authority

GM's Outsourcing Risk: Vendor 'Dream Team' Can't Be Anything Less Than Gold Medalists
Paul McDougall says: General Motors' handoff of up to $15 billion in technology contracts to a handful of service providers--including one offshore player--represents more than just a make-or-break IT strategy. It's a test case for the notion that bitter rivals can be forced to play nicely together on behalf of a single customer.


7. White Papers

Single Sign-on: Putting An End To The Password-Management Nightmare
Password protection is inherently insecure, leaving your network vulnerable to attack. In this informative paper you will learn how single sign-on solutions can help assure heightened security and compliance, reduce administrative complexity and costs, and improve the user experience.


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