We stopped by the so-called FON Freedom Friday event in Union Square this afternoon, and watched the WiFi-sharing company give away 500 FON routers to those milling around, mostly workers on their lunch break. By the time we left, around one P.M., they had given away about half of the routers. It’s not too hard to give away free routers and get people to take them — the hard part will be making any money, especially in the U.S.
Joanna Rees Gallanter, the company’s new executive in charge of U.S. operations (we previously covered the departure of former US chief Juergen Urbanski) was there handing out the goods with the rest of the crew.
We asked her how giving away routers combined with free WiFi access would make a good business model. She said the low cost subscription fees for non-community member day passes will bring in revenue, plus once the company gets to a sizable amount of users there are other ways to bring in revenue from a large community.
FON is a noble idea, but still it might take a lot of investment for them to get a great user base. Then again Google and Skype are investors, so maybe they know something we don’t.