Is WiFi Underhyped?

While some are worried that WiFi has been overhyped, Bill Gurley makes an interesting argument for why the technology has been underhyped. He compares the success of the open WiFi standard with that of x86 chips and ethernet. It’s a compelling story. An open standard that got quick adoption, which started a cycle for more adoption, locking in users to the standard while allowing companies to expand what could be done with the technology to encompass other (completely unexpected) areas. He sees the same thing happening with WiFi. I agree with the potential of WiFi, and have pointed out the pointlessness of most debates of “this wireless technology that doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace” vs. current WiFi offerings. WiFi won’t stand still, and the comparisons are pointless. That said, I think Gurley is a bit too quick to write off some of the other standards. This isn’t a situation (like with the x86 chip or ethernet) where only one solution needs to be used. Different wireless standards can be used at the same time for very different purposes. The more interesting view is looking at how the various standards may work together in complementary ways. So, on the whole, I agree that WiFi is only going to get more impressive over time, but I don’t think that means all other wireless standards are too late to the game.

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