There has been a buzz in the media lately as the gleaming praise for Zer01 Mobile turned to anger and betrayal. And, that makes sense. The Zer01 Mobile offering provided the Phantom-sized Holy Grail of unlimited 3G voice and data service for $69.99/month.
The first harsh reality is that, this simply is not a good deal anymore. Sprint’s Boost Mobile now offers its $50 unlimited data and voice plan on their CDMA 3G network. And, many are finding that they can activate any Sprint CDMA phone with relative ease… simply needing to scour up a Boost CDMA phone first. While that isn’t as easy as dropping a SIM card into a Zer01 Mobile phone… it would save you $240/year over Zer01 Mobile’s non-existent service.
That’s the other problem. From Laptop Magazine’s rescinding of their CTIA Best-of-Show award, to numerous bloggers feeling bad about all the hype and praise… we saw this one coming, and that’s why we haven’t talked about Zer01 in-between.
And, like many vaporware startups, Zer01 Mobile is now threatening reporters with legal action. We’re not amused. We’d rather focus on asking tough questions.
I would note that we did, in private, act as good journalists, and rolled out the red carpet for Zer01 Mobile to put up or shut up. Lets just say our inboxes never filled with any demo units.
I didn’t write this editorial to bury Zer01 Mobile. That’s already a done thing… barring any surreal distribution snag holding back a stellar (and now overpriced) service. I wrote this because MechaWorks has announced it’s in the gadget-building business. We’re building something cool, and we’re going to announce it next month.
This is instead an article about a task we already decided to take on, and that’s being absolutely open about where we stand. What we’re going to announce, well, it’s big. It’s not something you can chew up and ship out the door. It’s going to be an industry-wide effort (and I didn’t say the mobile industry). The most important thing in keeping confidence about your product is not failing to meet expectations.
We absolutely will not come out of the gates promising to ship something on a date certain. Instead, we’re going to share with you exactly where things stand. If we hit a snag, we’re going to be up front and tell you we hit a snag. That’s not to mean we’re moving at a slow pace, or that we’ll slow down… we’re going to stay realistic. Maybe, just maybe, if Zer01 Mobile had stayed realistic, it would have been the game changer that it aimed to be. And, maybe, we’d all be placeshifting videogames like OnLive, Phantom, and others promised.