DAVE Wireless and Dave Dobbin. Interview Part 2

by Jeff Wiener on December 23, 2009

Picture 12Yesterday I posted the first half of an interview I had with Dave Dobbin, President of DAVE Wireless. DAVE Wireless will be coming to market shortly. To read yesterday’s post click here:

Jeff: “And in terms of data offerings or handsets, is that something you are prepared to talk about in terms of iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices?”

Dave: “We will have smart phones on the network, and always have said that. iPhone is not currently manufactured in the AWS band, so you can’t get it because it’s just not manufactured. So we will have a wide range of smart phones on launch. We’ll have what Wind has now, plus, on the shelf.

Nexus OneJeff: “Would the Nexus One be something you would consider carrying?” (photo courtesy of Techcrunch)

Dave: “What’s the Nexus One?”

Jeff: “Google’s handset that they are coming to market with on January 5th?” (Read more here)

Dave: “I would have no problem doing that”

Jeff: “I guess you won’t be carrying it because you haven’t heard of it ?”

Dave: “I don’t know, I have not heard it referred to as the Nexus One, I have heard it referred to by a code name. We would love to carry a phone like that; we do not have any MSA’s in place with Google”

Jeff: “And looking down the pipe if you were to say, where would you guys be at in one year, and three years, both from a product and a competitive positioning perspective?”

Dave: “Our launch plan is to launch the five largest cities, in our coverage areas in the next twelve months. So we will be in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa in that period of time, providing a value based offering in those markets.”

Jeff: “Dave, I’m curious from your perspective, if you could provide two disruptive telecom trends”

Dave: “Two disruptive telecom trends, like over what time frame? Are you asking me like historically, what do I think is disruptive?”

Jeff: “No, if you were to look at the marketplace either in the last few months or moving down the pipe, what are the disruptive telecom trends as you see them that the telecom wireless and wire line market are and will be facing ? “

dave dobbinDave: “Well, like number one, Android. Android, it’s the number one disruptive trend out there. It’s an operating system that’s free. It’s free for developers to operate on, and free for handset manufacturers to put on their handset. It’s a completely different paradigm than what’s been employed. I don’t know if you know how that whole handset thing works but, I mean there’s licensing fees going left right and centre on handsets. There’s chip licensing fees, there’s CDMA/GSM licensing fees, there’s IP licensing fees, and then the operating system comes in, and there’s no fees on Android”

Jeff: “So at what point might you see it happening in the marketplace where Google says wireless services for data are free and they make their money based on advertising revenue that is split between the carrier and themselves”

Dave: “The only problem with that is that wireless is a little bit different than the landline world, and that spectrum is a non renewable resource so you can’t, I can’t see that happening in the near future unless they figure out some differentiated return investment model for the carrier”

Jeff: “Which is different from advertising revenue?”

Dave: “Yeah, because well I mean you might get paid through advertising revenue but the difference with the landline, with the cable modems, and with all those sorts of things is you can always lay more cable, you can always provide new services. With wireless, spectrum is spectrum and there’s only so much spectrum and God ain’t making any more. So you just can’t get more, and that’s going to be one of the most limiting factors on speed, on networks and technology that can be rolled out. I mean, there’s a couple of them, that’s one of the big ones, it’s spectrum. I like the way you’re talking, I mean I think it’s a great idea, but I would need to spend more time understanding the economics of it”

Jeff: “I see, so if it were a heavily subsidized market, and look the data market is growing at an astronomical rate, as it stands in the wireless/data market”

Dave: “Huge! Absolutely huge!”

Jeff: “Google can be enough of a disruption in the market, where you have mentioned ‘paradigm shifts’ they can play enough of a disruptive piece in the marketplace where they say ‘we completely subsidized to a huge extent, data services and we’re offering it to the market with one of the carriers for $5 bucks a month’’

Dave: “If Google wants to do that with us, that’s a conversation I’m absolutely willing to have”

Jeff: “I see, okay, and so I was kind of fishing as to maybe whether or not you were already looking at that play”

Dave: “No, not with Google”

Jeff: “At the beginning when I asked you the most disruptive telecom trends, you said…”

Dave: “Android!”

Jeff: “Right, so you see them as a huge competitive threat, their OS, but their position in the marketplace could be extremely disruptive come one month from now if they change their play and say ‘you know what? We’re going to partner with one of the players it’s going to be an extremely disruptive play, we’re going to bring data business to the market for $5 bucks a month, and the carrier makes money on advertising and splits it with Google”

Dave: “You said all that, I didn’t”

Jeff: “Well, it’s just a thought, I’m wondering if maybe we’re going down that path”

AndroidDave: “I don’t think so in the near term, I look at Google and Android as disruptive more from what can be put onto a smart phone at what price. That’s where I think it’s disruptive, because of the way it works, it’s just going to drive down the cost of the applications, the application development. It’s going to make technology cheaper for everybody, you’re going to see more smart phones, and that’s why I think it’s disruptive”

Jeff: “And Google in so many ways is so disruptive to today’s technologies”

Dave: “No, you know what, I have a different view on networks than most telecommunications carriers do. I have a very different view so I don’t particularly care if you are using Google Voice on my network. I don’t care if you are using Google Maps, I don’t care, if you are downloading ringtones from Google, I don’t care, if you are using the Google Application Suite over my phones on a Google Android phone, I don’t care, I really don’t”

Jeff: “So the concept is this open market and open ended”

Dave: “I love it, and I don’t have any problem with that model. I actually got into quite a scuffle with the CEO’s… I was at a dinner with a bunch of people and I ended up at a table with one of the CEO’s of one of our wireless companies and I got into a scuffle with him about that and he thought that he had to own the phone number and he wanted to have his own application store at his own web store selling songs, and I was saying to him ‘why are you going to try and compete with iTunes? Like, why are you going to do that? I don’t get it, like I don’t understand why you would spend that kind of money to compete with iTunes when they already out scale you by a factor of a hundred’

Jeff: “So having said that, why aren’t you calling Google?”

Dave: “I can’t speculate on who we’ve called or not called”

Jeff: “Why not make the introductory call?”

Dave: “I think that would be a great idea, wouldn’t it?”

Jeff: “I think so. If someone is going to do it, it might as well be you – right ? Control your own destiny. It would be extremely disruptive to the marketplace, at least in this sector”

Dave: “I agree, and I have not said if we’ve made the call or not had a call, I said we do not have an agreement with Google”

Jeff: “And there you go. Fair enough answer”

Dave: “Remember, I come from a different world, I come from the IP world, one of the reasons I was hired into my job is because I come from a completely different world than most people”

Jeff: “Which means what?”

Dave: “In the wireless industry, as I think of the world as IP packets, not circuit switch telephony. Most of the world is circuit switch focused, it’s not really IP”

Jeff: “So you’re open to being as disruptive as possible”

Dave: “Well look at what I did at Toronto Hydro, it was completely disruptive, everything I did was completely disruptive”

Jeff: “Right, now I guess you just need the resources, dollars, brains, technology to back it all up, right?”

Dave: “I’ve got fantastic brains behind me, I’ve got what I consider to be the best team in Canadian wireless, and I’m not just talking, I mean they’re phenomenal . You’ll hear the speculation out in the marketplace that oh, we don’t have any money – we don’t have any money. Well if you do the math on the publicly funded announcements and how much money people have and that sort of stuff, I think we’re doing pretty well”

Jeff: “You guys are reasonably funded ?”

Dave: “Yeah we’re right where Wind is, so we’re okay”

Jeff: “On a different note, your website is really drab, the marketing and the branding needs to get the market excited about what you are doing. I’m curious as to…”

Dave: “Because we’re not going to market as DAVE Wireless”

Jeff: “Right, but still in terms of getting the market excited about another carrier coming with perhaps a blog, and you speaking on the posts and doing a YouTube video, if you look at Public Mobile, they’re not launched yet but there’s an excitement that they’re creating within the marketplace. They’re introducing you to the executives, showing you a face, brand, name”

Dave: “The time has to be right, the time is not right”

Jeff: “Fair enough, and last question. What Canadian tech companies do you most respect in the industry right now? Not just telecom, but technology companies”

Dave: “Well you got to say RIM, well RIM is a Canadian technology success story, great technology. BelAir Networks, I’ve been talking to the guys at BelAir, they are an unbelievable company, BelAir is doing really really well, they make all sorts of great wireless equipment. Bridge Water Systems, is doing all sorts of fantastic things, and I actually think that they are under-valued on the aim, I think they are going to go great places. I think there is a great company that is under performing , like Spot Wave, they make some unbelievable technologies that could get much more into prime time than they are in the market. The guys at iLane at IMS, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, I don’t know if you’ve seen the iLane yet, fantastic piece of technology, just unbelievable, get one for demo if you can get it, it’s called ‘the iLane’ it’s an absolutely amazing piece of technology, they’re great guys actually Tony Casetta is running that place. There’s really a lot of amazing technology companies out right now.”

You have just read the 2nd part of a 2 part interview with Dave Dobbin. To read the first part, yesterday’s post click here:

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Identi.ca, or Friendfeed

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December 23, 2009 at 6:30 am

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