More on Borders/T-Mobile: I filed a brief yesterday for the New York Times on the plan for Borders to have T-Mobile install hot spots in all of its domestic stores, and was thus able to speak to the business development leads at both Borders and T-Mobile USA. Here's a little more detail from those conversations.
Frank Ramirez is T-Mobile's director of business products, the head of the team that develops the road map for how the HotSpot service will be used and the marketing for it. Ramirez comes from Microsoft, where he spent eight years, three of which were leading the VPN (virtual private networking) group, so he has a keen insight into the roaming business traveler, and the corporate side of that market as well in IT and management. Ramirez said that T-Mobile views HotSpots as part of their data business. “This is a complementary service to our 2.5G service,” he said. The message he puts out, he said, is that it's all about integration, meeting the “total mobility needs” for mobile professionals. He views 2.5G as “impromptu, on the go” service, while Wi-Fi is “portability,” or recreating your desktop environment wherever you are.
Paul Mozak, the director of business development at Borders, has a complementary view to this. They'd been looking into hot spots for years, and he was familiar with the history of the industry. They had talked to MobileStar, and then engaged in conversations with T-Mobile, and were impression by their ability to manage the Starbucks relationship. Borders wasn't driven by a mass upswelling of customer demand, but “We have had some requests from our customers, and it filters up from our store organization,” Mozak said. Their plan for rollout: “Our goal is to start the rollout in an aggressive fashion in the first quarter in California and other markets and have it done by the summer, which allows us then to do some things in the national launch,” which could include not-yet-decided-on marketing programs. Mozak wouldn't speculate, but Starbucks had provided some limited free service at various points in their trials. [80211b News]