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Summary:

FON, the Madrid, Spain-based WiFi services company has bought the popular Firefox extension, GSpace, for an undisclosed amount, according company officials. The FireFox extension was developed by Rahul Jonna and allows users to treat their GMail accounts as an online file storage locker. The extension will […]

FON, the Madrid, Spain-based WiFi services company has bought the popular Firefox extension, GSpace, for an undisclosed amount, according company officials. The FireFox extension was developed by Rahul Jonna and allows users to treat their GMail accounts as an online file storage locker.

The extension will be integrated with a new device, called FON Liberator, company founder Martin Varsavsky informs us in an email. The device is going to be launched in February 2007, and it is essentially a FON router that will have a USB 2.0 port.


Any device– iPod, hard drive or a flash drive – can be plugged into the router and turn it into network-attached storage. GSpace users, when using the Liberator could easily transfer their files either to their GMail accounts or straight to their personal hard drives which are plugged into the Liberator via the USB port.

Liberator is based on an OpenWRT operating system and has a bundled web server. Among other features, FON is bundling applications into this new router. For instance, it is going to bundle a special BitTorrent client with the new device. It will also have features for folks to upload photos to say their Flickr account or videos to YouTube.

The Liberator will come with a special web-based interface that will allow FON users to offload their uploading and downloading from their computers to their routers. This web admin interface will allow you to access files from your local USB attached drive over the Internet.

Liberator is not the first device to turn a plain vanilla drive into network attached storage device. There are several options. including Apple’s Airport Extreme (pricey.) Fabrik and its partners, Maxtor offer an easy to use storage drive, and so do several others. So why is FON doing this?

It is an attempt to make its network and service more attractive to users. If they can make the user experience simple enough, it would help attract new Foneros to the network.

  1. Glenn Fleishman Sunday, November 5, 2006

    The Apple AirPort Extreme does not offer network-attached storage. Its USB port may be used in the consumer version to attach a single USB printer to share it; in the educational version, the USB port may be connected to a USB hub and supports up to four USB printers for sharing.

    See the specs page. There was a great Wi-Fi NAS plus Wi-Fi gateway years ago (with iTunes zeroconf support) from a company called Martian that switched to OEM manufacturer.

  2. I would imagine that they will have file sharing capability as well. I also have a calrifying question: Is it going to be just a file sharing capability (in the sense that one can copy to a local storage) or a full file server (in the sense any application can access the files, modify and save them)?

    Recently, many other manufacturers have added this capability to thier “home gateway” devices. They were even displayed in Fall VON and WiMax Conference.

  3. Aswath, from what i know, this will be full file sharing capability. they are using NetBIOS and will basically mean that you can manage the storage from a remote machine, without local computr access. i think there is a bunch of other gateway devices that have this feature. i think actiontec (which oem’s for FON) which announced home gateways like that.

  4. Glenn,

    thanks for the clarification. I updated the post to reflect that.

  5. Martin Varsavsky | English Sunday, November 5, 2006

    GigaOm tells of our purchase of GSPACE…

    We bought Gspace from Rahul Jonna, its developer. But because of Leo´s birth I don´t have time to blog the whole story so I communicated with Om Malik who after congratulating me for the birth of my forth child (and…

  6. i’m confused…my understanding is that use of the gspace extension violates gmail’s terms of use and may result in loss or suspension of accounts…should we be looking for a larger relationship here between fon and google?

  7. Martin Varsavsky | Español Sunday, November 5, 2006

    Compramos Gspace…

    Debido al nacimiento de Leo no tengo tiempo para bloguear pero quería contar que como cuenta Om Malik en Gigaom compramos Gspace, la conocida extensión de Firefox. Lo gracioso de esta compra es que la idea vino en parte de…

  8. I don’t understand why one would buy a plugin (so, just some code), which enables it’s users to safe files in an ‘illegal’ filesystem: Gmail prohibits the use of Gmail as a filesystem. They might tollerate it, for now, but I can’t immagine that they will allow the use for this in a product such as the libirator. On the other hand: Fon has Google as investor, and probably has some good contacts there. But Gmail was never intended as file storage, and to store files, there are way better options.

  9. Well, Google are one of Fon’s investors, so maybe they know something that we don’t.

    b.

  10. Asus wireless router line starting with the already obsolete WL-500g sport USB ports with “Liberator” functionality. Everything from iPods to harddrives turn into remote storage (over FTP) when connected to the linux compatible router, no drivers needed. The only way to make it better is have it:
    -Ubiquitous (and a familiar experience)
    -Available (ie Asus does not sell the wl500g anymore)
    -User friendly (usable like a memory stick, for example, and not FTP)

    All eyes on the Liberator.

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