Can Ricochet Bounce Back?

from the sorry... dept

Sorry for the horrible headline, but the article demanded it. They even make fun of it in the opening paragraph. Anyway, for those who have been long time readers of Techdirt, you would know about my opinions on the Ricochet wireless service. It was a great service for many years, but no one at Metricom seemed to understand what they were selling – and thus they screwed it up. They focused on selling to “mobile professionals” at extraordinarily high prices. What they should have done was cut the price in half and sell it as an alternative to DSL or cable modems to the home. It’s fast (though not quite as fast as DSL/cable), it’s always on, there’s no worrying about “installation” at your house, and (oh yeah, by the way) it’s wireless and will work all over your city and plenty of other cities as well. They could have sold it as a great alternative to people frustrated with long wait times and awful service from cable/DSL companies. Instead, they focused on the wireless part and targeted a very small niche. The new owners of the network took their sweet time, but now they’re up and running in two cities. They’re now following the strategy that I thought made sense four years ago. The question is will it work now? Unfortunately, the landscape has changed, and they’re competing with WiFi hotspots. I still have two Ricochet modems lying around, but I doubt I’ll sign up for the service when it comes back to San Francisco. There are enough free hotspots around, that I don’t think it’s worth spending $40/month to “fill in the gaps”. Even if the new Ricochet points out that they’re “hot everywhere, not just in selected spots,” the value proposition has dropped in the year and a half they were gone. While there may still be some users who find the system worthwhile, I think Ricochet missed it’s window of opportunity a long time ago.

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Comments on “Can Ricochet Bounce Back?”

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1 Comment
The Dirty Tech says:

How bout other cities...

The landscape may have changed in San Fransisco, but what about other cities? I’m in Florida where the land is flat and no one lives “in the city”. We may work there, but most travel outside of town to the great suburban sprawl. I think this would be great here. There are new housing subdivision popping up like crazy, but they are too far away for DSL (have to wait a year or two) and cable television isn’t available, let alone cable broadband. The companies are being reactive rather than proactive.

I’m having a hard time shopping for a new house because I must have some type of reasonably priced broadband access. Thet say they will have it in a 6 months, but you know it will be at least a year.

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