The Entrepreneur Who Will Change Your Mobile Phone Bill

The Entrepreneur Who Will Change Your Mobile Phone Bill

David Morken admits that the promise he made to reward his kids with iPhones if they brought home straight A’s was no stroke of genius. But the business concept inspired by the ensuing $1,000-plus phone bills may well turn out to be.

Launched nationally in December 2012, Morken’s brainchild, Republic Wireless, is a $19-per-month voice, text and data service that relies on Wi-Fi as its primary network. When Wi-Fi isn’t accessible–roughly 40 percent of the time for Republic customers, according to Morken–calls automatically bounce to Sprint’s 3G cellular network.

The pillar of the low-cost Republic model is a solid but no-frills Android handset, the Motorola Defy XT, which allows Republic to offer a low-cost, contract-free wireless service package with unlimited voice, data and texting after paying an initial $249 for the phone.

In taking on the $178 billion wireless industry, Morken is counting on customers to flock because they already rely on Wi-Fi at home, at the office and in an increasing number of public and private spaces. “The future of mobile technology and the essence of the smartphone, I believe, is Wi-Fi,” he says. “It will continue to eat the world because it’s so much cheaper.”

Turns out Morken’s vision of Wi-Fi dominance may be closer than you think. The Wireless Broadband Alliance predicts that the number of hotspot deployments globally will nearly triple between 2012 and 2015–fortifying a reach that Morken says is broad enough to make the Republic model viable. Already, Republic customers can be linked in automatically to 11 million public hotspots using the company’s Wi-Fi+ app.

Republic’s model, observes technology industry analyst Jeff Kagan, “is innovative, but there are trade-offs for the customer because all the kinks haven’t been worked out yet.” Indeed, Republic’s unique value proposition also happens to be its weakest link, at least for now: At times users must contend with interrupted calls stemming from a less-than-seamless Wi-Fi-to-cellular handoff.

But that hasn’t stopped Republic Wireless from signing up “tens of thousands” of new customers each month, according to Morken, suggesting that mobile phone users are willing to live with those shortcomings. And he vows that they won’t have to for much longer; by early fall, the company plans to unveil updated software that he expects will largely resolve the handover issue. Republic will also add two more Android handset options.

Morken says he expects those improvements to attract more first-time smartphone users–the college students, cost-conscious Millennials, bargain hunters and land-line cord-cutters who comprise the bulk of Republic’s customer base. But what he really wants is for Republic to be the carrier that breaks the stranglehold on the wireless market held by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

“We can’t outspend the major carriers,” he acknowledges, “so this is going to have to stand on value.” And that’s a concept we can all agree is most welcome in today’s mobile world

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10 Questions to ask before Determining Your Target Market


10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

The better you understand your customer, the faster your business will grow. But new ventures often struggle to define their target market and set their sights too broadly.

“We often overestimate the market size, and in many cases there may not be one at all,” says Robert Hisrich, director of the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz.

Here are 10 questions that can help you determine whether you have a target market and what it is:

Who would pay for my product or service?
First, try to understand the problem that your product or service can solve, says Greg Habstritt, founder of, an Alberta, Canada-based advice website for small-business owners. Then, use that information to help determine who would be willing to pay for a solution. “Not only do [your potential customers] need to have the problem, but they need to be aware they have the problem,” Habstritt says. He recommends using Google’s keyword tool to see how many people are searching for words related to your business idea.

Who has already bought from me?
To refine both your target marketing and your pricing strategy, see who has already bought your product or service, says Amos Adler, president of Memotext, a medication compliance app maker in Bethesda, Md. You can gain valuable insights by releasing the product in a test phase and letting potential consumers speak with their wallets.

Am I overestimating my reach?
It’s easy to assume that most people will need your service or product. But rather than make assumptions, reach out to groups of potential customers to get a more realistic picture of your audience and narrow your marketing efforts. You can conduct surveys, do man-on-the-street type interviews in stores, or organize small focus groups. “We get so passionate about the idea and how good it is that we overestimate the market size,” Hisrich says.

What does my network think?
As you try to understand your target market, it may be challenging — and expensive — to seek feedback from potential consumers through surveys, focus groups and other means. But you can tap into your social networks to get free feedback. Many people in your extended network will likely be willing to take the time to give you opinions and advice, says Bryan Darr, founder of Mosaik Solutions, a data analytics company in Memphis, Tenn.

Am I making assumptions based on my personal knowledge and experience?
Your own personal experience and knowledge can make you believe that you understand your target market even before you conduct any research, Habstritt says. For example, if you’re a fitness buff and want to start a business related to personal health, you may assume you know your customer. “Don’t assume that you can think like your target market,” Habstritt says. “You have to ask them and talk to them to really understand them.”

What’s my revenue model?
Figuring out how you’ll reap revenue can help you find your target market, Hisrich says. Social ventures can be particularly tricky, he says, because without a specific plan for getting revenue it’s easy to overestimate the size of the customer base. But if you’re revenue model is simply selling a product online, it can be easier to figure out a target customer.

How will I sell my product or service?
Your retailing strategy can help determine your target market, Hisrich says. Will you have a store, a website or both? Will you be marketing only in your home country or globally? For example, an online-only business may have a younger customer than one with stores. A brick-and-mortar business may narrow your target market to people in the neighborhood.

How did my competitors get started?
Evaluating the competition’s marketing strategy can help you define your own target customer, says Darr. But of course, don’t simply copy the marketing approach of your biggest competitors once you define your target consumers. “You must have a way of differentiating what you are doing from what the other guys offer,” he says.

How will I find my customers?
As you start defining your target customers, try to determine whether you can efficiently market to them. You’ll need to do some market research and study your target audience’s demographic, geographic and purchasing patterns. If you’re selling from a storefront, you need to know how many people in your target market live nearby. If you’re selling from a website, you need to learn about your prospective customers’ online behavior. Understanding how to locate your customers early on can help you establish a game plan once you start building a marketing strategy, Hisrich says.

Is there room to expand my target market?
Be prepared to redefine your target market or to expand it over time, Darr says. For example, figuring out whether you’re targeting a domestic consumer or customers throughout the world can be a good start. As the power of mobile mapping has grown in the last decade, he’s seen the number of target markets grow at his own firm. In the beginning, Mosaik dealt mostly with wireless operators, but now he also counts cable providers and broadcasters as clients, Darr says.

A Refreshing Take on User Experience Design

UX Design

I recently came across a blog-post by Susan Weinschenk which provides a quick overview of ideal user experience guidelines from a psychologist’s point of view.

The article addresses a diverse set of user experience guidelines and standards and consists of some really practical and useful tips which can and ought to be implemented right away.

Here’s a quick summary of the points which I found to be relevant to eLearning andInstructional Design.

  • It is better to show people a little bit of information and let them choose if they want more details. (Progressive Disclosure)
  • Instead of just describing things, show an example.
  • If something is clickable make sure it looks like it is clickable.
  • If a task is error-prone, break it up into smaller chunks.
  • Don’t make people remember things from one task to another or one page to another.
  • People can only remember about 3-4 items at a time. The “7 plus or minus 2” rule is an urban legend. Research shows the real number is 3-4.
  • People need feedback. The computer doesn’t need to tell the human that it is loading the file. The human needs to know what is going on.
  • If pages are cluttered people can’t find information. Use grouping to help focus where the eye should look.
  • Things that are close together are believed to “go” together.
  • The hardest colors to look at together are red and blue. Try to avoid red text on a blue background or vice versa.

Social Networking – A Contrarian View

Social Networking – A Contrarian View

Today, I’m going to adopt a contrarian view. We all know social networks promote learning; while the mechanisms aren’t documented or well-understood, that it works isn’t in doubt anymore. But we must ask, are the ‘social media/networking systems’ out there promoting this learning? Or does it happen in spite of these systems?

Sure, lots of companies want to replicate ‘Facebook’ behind the firewall; safe from prying eyes, but open enough for employees to freely express themselves. They hope that by just implementing such a system learning will ‘happen’; does it?

I have seen that early attempts to bring social networking inside companies as a work tool have failed. They probably failed because they didn’t really have a focus on the companies’ true ethos – making money. Perhaps they lacked the required understanding of business processes, the systems used to enable these and the ‘culture’ that each company develops over time. Social networks are about connecting people, about creating an ‘ambient awareness’ of what’s happening and where with reference to the people around us. Such networks come into their own when you want to find people who can help you solve problems, provide insights, or provide expertise you may not have.

Given the way social networking tools are at this time, connecting people is the easy part – the systems facilitate the connections easily and effectively. But how does one track the data exchange and activity on these systems to glean usable knowledge (further solves problem, provides an insight or expertise) – it is only this knowledge that people are interested in – knowledge that affects business process execution, social networking tools as we know it fail miserably in this area. People need to be motivated to change, and that isn’t going to happen overnight. Social technologies are going to take time to be adopted, just like it too years before people thought email.

Till that time, I wouldn’t be relying on them for much more than connecting and communicating, another tool like IM, video chat, VoIP etc. This of course, does not mean that you ignore the potential of such tools/platforms/systems. In the years to come, as people change their attitude and mind-sets about the tools, they are sure to have an impact. Has your organization implemented a social networking platform? What’s been your experience?

Courtesy : Abhijit Kadle  |  Social Learning 

Pervasive Learning

Pervasive LearningIn his book, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization (Wiley, 2013), Dan Pontefract defines ‘Pervasive Learning’ as:

“learning at the speed of need through formal, informal and social learning modalities”

(I got the above definition from Dan’s blog, the book is still on my ‘to read’ list.)

A powerful thought indeed. The idea of pervasive learning has been around for sometime and makes perfect sense as more and more of us become concept workers and work and learning merge. I believe emerging technology is helping pervasive learning to happen more effectively and will continue to impact positively. I have noted this in an earlier post on how mobile enables informal learning.


Dan likens his idea of Pervasive Learning with Charles Jennings’ 70-20-10 Forummission. To me the two look well aligned until you take the ratios in the 70-20-10 method too seriously. As Donald Clark points out in this article, the 70-20-10 model may not be universally applicable to all staff and there’s not enough research to back the exact percentages. He talks of the ‘10% amplifier effect’, emphasizing the importance of formal training.

“This amplifier effect works because each hour of formal learning spills over to four-hours of informal learning for a 4:1 ratio (Cofer, 2000). Bell (1977) used the metaphor of brick and mortar to describe this relationship of formal and informal learning—formal learning acts as bricks fused into the emerging bridge of personal growth, while informal learning acts as the mortar, facilitating the acceptance and development of the formal learning.”

Not surprisingly Donald and I prefer Dan Pontefracts’ 3-33 Pervasive Learning modelover the 70-20-10 model. Donald writes –

“…3-33, which stands for 33% of the learning is formal, 33% is informal, and 33% is social. What is most interesting is that the research behind his model revealed that when the learners were asked to give the percentages on how they thought they learned, the numbers were very different than when the researchers actually discovered how the learners did indeed learn. This coincides with other research that indicates what learners are able to judge about their learning experiences (see Learner Self-Assessment Ratings). Pontefract 3-33 approximation is a Pervasive Learning model – learning is a collaborative, continuous, connected, and community-based growth mindset:”

Pervasive Learning

Courtesy : Amit Garg Amit Garg  |  eLearningeLearning Development 

How Mobile Learning Works


Everything about the way the mobile market is expanding to every corner of the world is fascinating. With the number of mobile devices that connect the entire planet set to breach the 7 billion mark in 2014, every activity we do is being re-defined, whether it is shopping, banking, working, or learning.

Mobile devices have become as ubiquitous as human population. It is almost impossible to go anywhere without bumping into sea of people using cell phones. With the advent of new mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and others, mobile computing is finally coming of age globally, quickly outpacing its desktop sibling. The mobile web growth which has reached its pinnacle is showing no signs of slowing down. In short, mobile market, which constitutes apps, software, hardware, services and infrastructure, is going to be a vital participant in the development of the next generation human facilities and processes, learning being one of them.


The definition of M-learning keeps changing and even as we talk about it, there is always a new addition happening to the existing standard of mobile learning. In its simplest form, M-learning can be called that form of learning where there is no requirement for the learner to be stationary at a predetermined location. The advantages of various mobile technologies come into play here as the learning methodology focuses on the mobility of the learner and his interaction with portable devices such as smartphones, MP3 players, tablets and other smart devices. Online learning when combined with the power of mobile devices give rise to M-learning.

The FRAME Model

The Framework for the Rational Analysis of Mobile Education (FRAME) model is used to describe the mobile learning process.
The Venn diagram aptly represents the three aspects of mobile learning, Device, Learner and Social. The Device aspect refers to the various capabilities of the mobile device that includes its specifications, physical and functional characteristics. These characteristics have a significant impact on the usage habits of the learner and therefore require a comprehensive investigation before being implemented. Acting as a bridge between human being and technology, devices should be designed for maximum comfort.

mobile learning

The Learner aspect focuses on the cognitive abilities of the learner such as context and transfer, memory, prior knowledge, emotions and motivations and discovery learning. Mobile learning helps the learner access content in various formats and these factors have a vital role to play in the encoding, recalling and transfer of information. The Social aspect takes into account the various interactions between two learners with their mobile devices while following the rules of cooperation to communicate. However, what we are really concerned about is the area where all these three aspects intersect each other.

Mobile Learning Process (DLS)

It is the intersection of all the three aspects in the FRAME model that facilitates mobile learning. The interaction of Device, Learner and Social is what defines mobile learning, which itself is an ever-evolving process.

As the amount of knowledge increases, it is necessary to rapidly evaluate it for worthiness and that’s where mobile learning comes into help. Governed by flexible social, technological and cognitive factors, mobile learning helps users get immediate access to knowledge and experts, who help in determining the relevance and importance of the information found on the Internet.

So how mobile capability does enhance learning?

To summarize it all, mobile capability helps in learning by facilitating interaction and collaboration, creation of a learning community and providing access to a variety of online resources in real time.

Mobile learning implementation

Duke University provided all its incoming freshmen with their own 20-gigabytes of iPods. Similarly, Virginia Tech College was the first public institution that required every student to purchase a tablet PC beginning with incoming freshman in 2006 fall.

Apart from schools and colleges, mobile learning is also making its presence felt in workplaces. Instant messaging is going to replace email as the new generation prefers synchronous tools to asynchronous ones. Every person who possesses a Smartphone is in the capacity of perpetrating the learning content and applications.

Author- Saurabh Tyagi is an expert writer having interest in diverse topics like education, technology, career and Web 2.0. He is a social media enthusiast and a self-confessed gadget-freak, who loves to follow the latest happenings in the tech world.

Top 5 Trends – Where Technology Will Take Elearning in 5 Years

1. Technology Will Drive Collaborative Learning

Collaboration is no longer a hyped-up buzz word; it’s everywhere. It’s being fostered in the workplace because sometimes the best ideas come from just having conversations with others. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – the biggest and brightest are all following this model – and it’s bound to be the next step for elearning. As one respondent wrote “I hope that technology will enable all participants to contribute to the learning experience. Learning will become a collaborative experience not led by a traditional ‘facilitator’ pushing content out to consumers, but will result in shared knowledge, experiences and opinions from all to create the ‘content’.”

2. Elearning & Mlearning Will Be In Constant Regeneration

While we can see how technology can enable a collaborative elearning system, what if in unison, the Internet is also part of the equation? Imagine your elearning module automatically picking up brand new images via tags, categories, and systematically updating your module with new content. Think about it this way: new laws or regulations are put in place and your old compliance module is void null; the Internet, which is the first medium to pick up this news, will update any content on your module that needs to be fixed. “Once a course is created the information is redundant. The next logical step would be to allow the content to change automatically through sources on the Internet (pictures, content, etc.)”

3. Augmented Realities Will Be The Norm

If Google glasses are already a reality, what’s next? “Learning will become highly augmented…learning about architecture whilst standing at the opera house, looking at what you discussed. This followed by holographic teachers who can stand beside you and help you physically. Finally virtual classrooms through a projected self-meaning you can attend a lecture or tutorial in person even though you’re kicking back with Richard B on his island ;)”

4. Technology Used To Fulfil User’s Needs – Not To Impress Them

Just because it’s cool, doesn’t mean it’s going to help learners. We all know what happens with trends; they hit a peak and then slowly fade away. Technology is not something that should hinder the learning experience because of the cool factor; rather it should effectively foster the user and heighten their knowledge and skillset. “Technology is just another means to deliver the learning of new knowledge, skills and attitudes – we need to ensure we don’t add the bells and the whistles for the sake of it. It’s like they say on Masterchef, sometimes the best food consists of three well-balanced, quality ingredients. If the technology is poorly used, we’ll be faced by another cohort of learners screaming: “Not another elearning course! PLEASE!!!”

5. Creating Better Blends

On the other hand, maybe technology will drive users back into the classroom. “I’d like to see technology drive elearning back into the classroom . . . within reason! It would be great to see technology developments that enable much better integration of online content within traditional classroom environments. Often this is attempted, but it’s not often not seamless for participants – technology that better enables in classroom connection of content with facilitators with real participants would be great.”

Courtesy :