Novatel Wireless (s nvtl) has secured a trademark for the name MiFi, which applies to both the hardware and software found in its line of wireless hotspot devices. But trademark or not, a lack of consumer knowledge on the product capabilities of the credit card-sized 3G data routers has been hurting sales — customers know what a MiFi is, but they don’t quite know everything a MiFi can do.
I’ve seen firsthand just how solid brand awareness of Novatel Wireless’ device line is. I purchased a MiFi to carry everywhere I go and quite often people stop me to ask, “Is that a MiFi?” I try to explain that it’s a personal hotspot, but in the end, people seem to equate a MiFi with wireless Internet connectivity. They tell me they don’t care about the technical mumbo-jumbo — only that they can get online with their devices.
But while the brand does indeed equate to easy online access, I’m not sure that customers understand that a MiFi supports several devices simultaneously. Instead of a USB dongle that provides connectivity for one computer, the MiFi shares its data connection with up to five devices over Wi-Fi. For the same monthly fee as that USB dongle, the data pipe of a MiFi is leveraged across multiple machines, providing a better value. Novatel Wireless announces quarterly earnings on Thursday of this week, so perhaps we’ll get a glimpse if the company is battling consumer perceptions of the MiFi capabilities or not.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):
Image courtesy of Novatel Wireless