Anthony Lacavera and Wind Mobile. Interview Part 2

by Jeff Wiener on January 19, 2010

Yesterday I posted the first half of an interview I had with Anthony Lacavera, Chairman of Wind Mobile. Wind Mobile launched as the fourth national wireless carrier last month. You can read yesterday’s post. Click here:

Jeff: What’s your thought on Google’s Nexus One phone ?

Anthony: It is a new device and it does have a lot of applications and features on it that people want and then it comes down to a lot of how this plays out in the medium to longer term in terms of what consumer preferences are.

Jeff: Would you say this would be a phone that Wind Mobile would carry?

Anthony: Yes, we’ve said that already. Chris Robbins has said a number of times he’s trying to do an agreement and there’s Ken Campbell involved as well. It’s working on the WIND network that’s really the big thing. It works on AWS which is our frequency but does not work on traditional GSM at this time. So, from a technical standpoint, at this moment today, WIND is the only carrier in Canada that could run it.

Jeff: Ironic considering …

Anthony: It’s pretty ironic since the incumbents last year were saying there would never be any AWS phones so WIND doesn’t have a chance.

Jeff: And they’ve just finished a battle over the iPhone too.

Anthony: Yes, exactly.

Jeff: iPhone is obviously the dominant phone. I could probably get into an entirely separate discussion on the Apple iPhone but we will leave that for another time. There’s this major guerrilla that’s getting ready to pounce on the market, that guerrilla being Google. I would like to side track a bit and discuss your thoughts on their dominance on the market.

Anthony: Sure

Jeff: When I interviewed Dave Dobbin last month, we were talking about Google as a competitive threat and how their presence will change the market place?

Anthony: Yes.

Jeff: I was referring not to Google’s handset itself but their model of using advertising to subsidize air time. There’s a possibility (I am speculating here, this is my theory) that Google could soon start partnering with data providers, companies like WIND and change the landscape. Let’s say for example, Google provided subsidized air time of $5 a month, or free, to consumers and used all Google Ad revenue to cover the costs of air time and split the revenue with the carrier. Is that a relationship or business proposition that you would consider using at WIND?

Anthony: Absolutely, as long as we remember that our model is unlimited voice, unlimited data, no contracts etc. As long as that’s true and as long as we are consistent on that, that’s really the thing. We will investigate any alternatives but we can’t go off our model. Obviously, we’d like to have Google involved.


Jeff: This would be a Google data plan though. Google has changed so many businesses and business units. Crystal balling this, I see them putting potentially the whole GPS market at risk by offering GPS services on handhelds. The GPS itself is free, completely paid for by advertising, whatever restaurant or whatever bowling alley wants to advertise on the handheld and the services are paid through Ad revenue.

So, Google comes to the market and says “Look, we are going to provide data services, we are going to partner with a data company in Canada, we are going to sell these services for $5 a month, for example. Whoever wants Google data services at $5 a month come get it. And it’s entirely paid for through advertising”

Could you see us coming to a point in the Canadian data landscape market where a company decides that Google, which is one of the few players which can pull this off, actually pulls a stunt like that?

Anthony: Honestly Jeff, I think that it’s early days to speculate on stuff like that. Clearly, that is their model and they would like to see it unfold that way. I agree with you that they have a very unique market position in terms of trying to capitalize on a model like that but there are a lot of players, there are a lot of stakeholders here and I don’t think it’s so clear that it’s necessarily going to be successful.

That being said, my first response is, we are clearly interested in exploring these types of opportunities. Again, as long as we don’t go off promise of delivering to Canadians – Unlimited Voice, Unlimited Data with a subscription model and without having to introduce subsidies for the handset.

And, advertising subsidy, that’s app driven – which is really the core of what Google is talking about in my view. Sure, of course, we’d love to find a way to make that work as long as it does not compromise our business model.

Jeff: And my last question – What technology do you see as the most technologically threatening to the cell business and why?

Anthony: I think one of the great things about the business is that there is an explosive growth in demand, particularly for data. I think that the traditional cell business is threatened by the fact that people want more and more different kinds of wireless devices.

You have just read the second half of a two part interview. To read 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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