The March of the PocketSpots, Cont’d.

July 28, 2009

Novatel Wireless, makers of the MiFi portable hotspot — AKA a PocketSpot — have announced a version of their device for GSM-flavored data networks, meaning T-Mobile and AT&T users should soon be able to participate in the unwired router fun that Verizon, Sprint and Clearwire now offer for on-the-go use.

Only problem with the latest version of the MiFi — no carrier has the high-speed HSPA networks running yet to support the higher speeds. Just like those wanting to use the “S” on their new iPhone 3Gs, you will have to wait for Ma Bell to get them towers up and running. (No announcement from either carrier yet about availability, but start the clock now.) As the guys at JKontherun note, this new version might be more appealing to corporate IT departments since it contains some on-board processing and storage to allow for custom applications, or integration with corporate communications policy. Good thinking, there.

Andy Sez: Call Them Mobile Routers ‘PocketSpots’

June 28, 2009

The master of mobile disaster speaks, and we listen: Wondering what to call the new class of cool portable routers that provide mobile Wi-Fi hotspots … in your pocket? Andy Abramson, who probably already owns all types manufactured so far (except the WiMax-powered Clear Spot) has dubbed them…

Expect a Kleiner Perkins PocketSpot fund to arrive shortly.

Clearwire NTK Excerpt: ‘Clear Spot’ Could be a Game-Changer

June 11, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from our just-released Clearwire NTK, or “Clearwire Need To Know” report for June 2009, a $4.95 research report that delivers the most up-to-date information available about the nation’s nascent national WiMax provider. In this excerpt Sidecut Reports looks at the Clear Spot, the portable WiMax/Wi-Fi router that we think could be a game-changer for Clearwire. If you like this and want more, order the report — for $4.95 it’s hard to go wrong. (Report also available in Kindle format from the Amazon store.)

Devices Update: ‘Clear Spot’ Could be a Real Game-Changer

Scott Richardson showing us the Clear Spot prototype at the Jan. 6 Portland launch.

When Clearwire chief strategy officer Scott Richardson first showed us the “Clear Spot” prototype at the Portland launch event, we guessed (correctly) that it would create huge buzz in the tech blogging world, and it sure did. The idea of a mobile router that could create a Wi-Fi hotspot just about anywhere is one of those things that is instantly understandable and incredibly liberating, most likely in ways that providers like Clearwire (or the cellular companies) haven’t yet thought of.

The main “Clear Spot” device, manufactured by mobile-router specialist Cradlepoint, uses a USB device to connect to the WiMax network on the back end; it then can provide extremely local service to as many as eight separate Wi-Fi clients, a list that could include laptops, iPhones, iPod Touch, or any other Wi-Fi enabled device.

What makes Clearwire’s offering different from the cellular providers’ similar offerings (like the MiFi router now being sold by Verizon and Sprint) is that with purchase of the appropriate service plan, there is no limit on how much data or what applications can be used via the Clear Spot, the kind of “do whatever you want” freedom that often spurs unforeseen Internet innovation. While it’s still too early in the device’s life cycle (and still too early for Clearwire to have enough markets to test it in), it’s easy to see the Clear Spot being a no-brainer for college students who need and/or want fast, ad hoc access to the Internet, or for business workgroups who want to set up powerful hotspots on the fly.

The fact that only one device — the Clear Spot — needs a dedicated WiMax connectivity device is also a huge factor in spurring potential service adoption, since users then don’t need to upgrade currently owned devices that already likely have a Wi-Fi chip inside. Clearwire right now sells the Clear Spot for an additional $139.99, but prices here could also go down as the device morphs into a planned streamlined verison that includes built-in WiMax connectivity.

“Strategically, people get it on how to use the Clear Spot,” said Richardson. “We’re already getting calls asking how to hook it to a PlayStation3, and if we offer a 12-volt connection so people can plug it into their cars.”

Want to know more about Clearwire device plans for 2009, as well as market launches and business plans for the company? Order our Clearwire NTK June 2009 report for just $4.95 and get everything you NEED TO KNOW about the nation’s nascent WiMax provider.