Posts from Paris


Yesterday I traveled from Amsterdam to Berlin and ended my day in Paris. Three countries in one day. And I did it all with just one data only sim card in my phone.

I've been trying out a new data only service called Roamline while I've been in europe. It works great and allows you to roam from country to country in Europe, Canada, and the US with a fixed rate on data.

It works great, but it is not cheap. At .39euro per MB, I feel like its a luxury. It's much more cost effective to buy a sim card in each country. In Denmark, I was able toget a 1gig sim for 48krone which is something like $8US. So that would be .8cents per MB. In london, I paid 20pounds for 1gig of data so that is 3cents per MB. Roamline's cost of .39euro per MB is something like 50cents US per MB.

But what you get in return is convenience. I needed to be in three countries in one day, I wanted data to work on my phone from the moment I landed, and I did not want to be running around looking for a store to buy a local sim card.

Of course the other option is to just use your US phone service and get the biggest data roaming plan you can. With AT&T Mobile, you can get 800MB a month of international roaming for $120. That is 15cents per MB. But after that you pay some crazy number like $20 per MB (at least that's what the AT&T customer service person told me when I called a few weeks ago to inquire about this stuff).

If Roamline were about half the price, somewhere around $0.20per MB, I think it would be an awesome service. And operating in data only mode is not a big deal. I use skype and a sip client called Bria for voice and I use Kik for messaging. Everything else is data.

You'll need an unlocked iPhone or Android to swap out sims like this. But I don't buy locked phones and never have. I think the lock+subsidy is a bad deal and I don't like being told what I can and can't do on my phone.

In any case, I think Roamline is an interesting option for people who do a lot of international business travel in europe, canada, and the US. If they can lower the price by half, then I think its a great option.


Do Network Effects Span Geographies?

Three years ago most western european countries had a local social network that was the most popular social net in the country. Today Facebook is dominant in most of western europe and those local social nets have largely been bypassed.

It would seem that Facebook leveraged the size of its network (approaching 500mm people worldwide) to beat its competition in social networking. But what's interesting to me about that is that it also means that it leveraged a network that was larger out of country to beat an incumbent who initially was larger in country.

For the sake of this argument, I am assuming network size and network effects was the cause of Facebook's success internationally against local competitors. It could be that it was not network, but instead features that won the market for Facebook. Certainly it was some of both.

I come to this "argument" with a deep respect for the power of networks, particularly online, and so I believe that in fact Facebook was able to leverage the size of its out of market network to compete in market against a local incumbent who had a stronger in market network.

And why exactly would that work? Well first of all, many people have social networks that span geographies. And those people tend to be influencers who are important in the value of an overall social graph. I think it is also true that in many parts of the world, big american brands are powerful in local markets. And so its probably also true that there is an allure of being part of a big american social network. I've been told that there are only four countries that are mostly impenetrable for a US internet company; russia, china, japan, and korea. We will see if that is true in Facebook's case.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was making my way around Paris, checking in on Foursquare. In every place I went to in Paris, there was an existing mayor and plenty of tips. But it was rare to check into a place and find someone else checked in as well. By contrast in NYC, I rarely check in these days without finding at least one other person checked in.

In talking to some local parisian web entrepreneurs, I heard about a local Parisian company called Tellmewhere that has 500,000 users, mostly french. Read Write Web has a good post up about Tellmewhere right now. So maybe the reason I found the usage of Foursquare in Paris to be light compared to NYC is the presence of a strong local competitor.

And thus my question that started this post. Do network effects span geographies? Does the fact that Foursquare is approaching 1mm users worldwide make a difference in Paris or will Tellmewhere, with 500k users who are mostly here, continue to dominate locally?

If we can use Facebook as a guide, it seems eventually the largest network wins. But can we use Facebook as a guide and is that universally true on the web? Let the discussion begin.

Enhanced by Zemanta
#Blogging On The Road#VC & Technology#Web/Tech