Boost: cheap appropriable mobile internet May 23, 2007Posted by François in boost, cannibalism.
Following up on a tip from Brett Stalbaum, I have been playing with a Boost mobile pre-paid phone. The two low-end models, Motorola i415 and i455 respectively sell for $30 and $50, including a $10 credit. Both have a built-in GPS. The interesting part is that Boost offers unlimited data for $0.35 per day. Combine that with the fact that Motorola recently opened the java interface to its iDen phones, and you have unlimited mobile internet access for about $10/month (I have yet to make a voice call. That would cost $0.20/min.) In addition to browsing the net with the phone, you can also use it as a tethered modem for a computer (instructions here; very slow — I’m only getting about 10kb/s… I need to figure out how to unlock Widen)
This Boost offer is being fully cannibalized by mologogo, the free social location service: they have appropriated it as a cheap networked GPS tool (they sell Boost phones, preloaded with their software, at a slight premium over the Boost price.) Mologogo’s web pages even include tips on “stopping unwanted calls”, to make sure nobody calls and eats up precious pre-paid time (receiving calls also disrupts the GPS application.) I wonder what Boost thinks about all this… A dynamic hacker community is emerging to do all kinds of interesting things with this. Mologogo has also used the twitter API to create a ‘molotwit’ mashup.
So far I have loaded up the opera mini browser, gmail, and mologogo (you can see where abaporu has been hanging out lately). One of the interesting features of the boost pre-paid plan is that it doesn’t charge users for incoming SMS. So, with the unlimited data plan, you can use m.twitter to send free SMS to a twitter feed, and boost phones that subscribe to that feed get free twitter updates. There has to be an interesting project that can take advantage of that… any brilliant ideas?