Are Non-PC Devices Really Boosting HotSpot Usage?

wfa_certified_logo.gifEarlier this morning, market research firm In-Stat released a report entitled “More Than Just Laptops –? Worldwide Hotspots are Impacted by Other Mobile Devices.” They sent out a release full of fluff — and light on facts.

“Service providers are reporting an increased number of sessions originating from devices other than laptops,” says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst. “Consumer electronic devices, such as cellphones and handheld gaming devices have also added Wi-Fi as a product feature.”

What they are saying seems to be partially true. Using your WiFi-enabled phone, iPhone or some such device, you try to log into the Wi-Fi hotspot — say the T-Mobile HotSpot — except it almost never works. In reality, it’s more like a “give up after trying” scenario.

Or at least that has been my personal experience at some of the paid hotspots. And that’s not just in the U.S., but even on recent trips to Europe and Asia.

The problem is the web-based landing page, which is hard to navigate and use on a small device such as a Nokia (NOK) N95 mobile phone. Sure there are some workarounds, like software from Devicescape, but it is an inexact science. Even the free Wi-Fi hotspots have some sort of password protection that involves going through a web-based login page.

I would go so far as to say that while the device makers have started adding Wi-Fi to their gear, the user experience is still in the pre-historic times. If you feel otherwise, I would love to know, especially if you have tips and tricks to offer.