A Web Worker’s Vacation

My recent cross-country train trip was a lot of fun. I got to see family and some old friends, and came back relaxed, which is hard to do when flying these days. Here are some suggestions for a good vacation.

Free AT&T Hotspots Pose a Security Risk to iPhone Users

The next time you finish using that free AT&T hotspot that stands as one of the few highlights of being an iPhone users on that network of questionable dependability, you might want to make sure your phone forgets that particular Wi-Fi connection.

Which Will Win? Connected Gadgets or a Connected You?

novatel-mifi-2200-4xh-460Novatel Wireless said this week that it will open up its MiFi router to developers who want to build applications for the popular gadget. This means tech companies can build software that will run on the credit card-sized Wi-Fi router that uses Verizon’s or Sprint’s 3G network as its backhaul to the Internet — and essentially turns a person into a walking Wi-Fi hotspot.

Vendors are already taking advantage of the development program. James over at our sister blog jkOnTheRun wrote about Eye-Fi, which makes a Wi-Fi card that allows people to transfer photos from their camera to their PC without a cord, building a program that allows folks to send photos to the MiFi when they aren’t in a traditional hotspot. He didn’t understand why anyone would want to do this, however after talking with people in the consumer device industry and with carriers, it’s clear that they think using the MiFi as a way to connect consumer devices to a cellular network has a lot going for it. Read More about Which Will Win? Connected Gadgets or a Connected You?

Wi-Fi Cafe Users Love Apple and Like to Spend

iStock_000001567953XSmallWhile you’re enjoying a cup of joe in a local cafe, the folks sitting around you typing on their laptops and smartphones could very well be purchasing something online. Nearly 38 percent of people who use a cafe’s Wi-Fi say they make an online purchase during their visit, according to the findings of a report released today from mobile media company JiWire. Of those, more than half say they’re making a personal buy, while just 15 percent say they’re making a business purchase.
In addition, the iPhone and iPod touch are hugely popular with the cafe crowd, the report reveals. The two Apple (s appl) devices account for a whopping 98 percent of mobile gadgets used in cafes with Wi-Fi. About 54.2 percent and 43.4 percent of people using Wi-Fi in a cafe say they use the iPhone and iPod touch, respectively. (For more on the iPhone, check out our upcoming Mobilize 09 conference.) And although 74 percent of the cafe Wi-Fi crowd use PC laptops, over one-quarter are Mac users — which is notable given that Apple accounts for just 7.4 percent of the U.S. market share for notebooks. To boost its share even more, maybe Apple should target cafe goers in the future. Read More about Wi-Fi Cafe Users Love Apple and Like to Spend

AT&T Adds 20,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots

AT&T must be determined to get its subscribers online. First, we heard just yesterday that iPhone tethering is officially in the queue from CEO Ralph De La Vega. Now, there’s more good news for users of Apple’s little smartphone-that-could. Wireless hotspot provider Wayport, one of the largest in the U.S., has been acquired by AT&T.
Wayport, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based company, opened its doors in 1996. They initially focused on bringing Wi-Fi access to business┬átravelers, and their early clientele included hotels and airports. In 2004, they became a provider of choice for McDonald’s, which resulted in the creation of 10,000 hotspots at the chain’s fast food restaurants in the U.S. A recent deal saw Wayport extending access at all their locations to Nintendo DS users, and it’ll be interesting to see if AT&T maintains this relationship.
The acquisition is great news for iPhone subscribers, since AT&T recently announced that all their Wi-Fi hotspots would be accessible to iPhone users free of charge. AT&T subscribers now have access to more than 80,000 access points.
It’s also an indication that the telecom giant is serious about building out their wireless infrastructure. The demand placed on their existing network by the influx of iPhone 3G users has provided headaches for AT&T in the past, and their are a couple fixes available to them. First, they can spend on new build. More 3G towers in more places, providing wider and deeper coverage. Second, they can alleviate the burden to their existing hi-speed network. Encouraging iPhone users to switch off 3G and switch on Wi-Fi eases their overall bandwidth load. And acquisitions like Wayport are a smart move in tough economic times, when companies with cash on hand can pick up smaller firms at deep discounts. If AT&T is serious about providing true blanket Wi-Fi coverage, look for them to make a move on bigger players like Boingo as the slump continues.