Google’s MVNO is here to stay

After launching the MVNO service in 2015, Project Fi has trundled along without any real fanfare, but a rebrand of the service suggests it might get a bit more attention over the coming months.

It has become somewhat of a rite of passage for Google, but dropping the ‘Project’ part of the name is a sign the service or product has graduated out of the labs. Loon had the ‘Project’ label dropped a couple of months back, and now it’s starting to look like a genuine business, so perhaps this snippet of news is something we should pay attention to. The MVNO is perhaps being given more official status on the Google family tree. Project Fi has been rebranded to Google Fi.

“Starting today, Project Fi is available on more phones: our plan now works with the majority of Android devices and iPhones,” said Simon Arscott, Director of Project Fi at Google. “And since we’re officially expanding our device support, we’re making our name more official, too: we’re now Google Fi.”

We doubt this service will be able to offer any material competition to the MNOs of the US, though it will certainly be a nuisance. Google’s previous ventures into the world of connectivity have not been fruitful, Google Fiber was hardly a roaring success, though this is a company which likes to back ideas with potential. And it certainly isn’t scared about pumping cash into concepts some would easily dismiss. Just looks at Maps or Loon, how many companies would have stuck with these ideas for so long as they swallow millions. Maps has now developed into a money making machine, while we love the potential of Loon.

In Google Fi, the team has the opportunity to do something brilliant again.

The interesting aspect of Google Fi is its affordability, simplicity and the fact it genuinely seems user centric. In researching this article, your correspondent went on the FAQs, played around with the various products and talked to a customer service agent in the instant chat function. The website is simple and easy to use. It seems genuinely user centric, much in the same way GiffGaff is in the UK. On the product side, these are tariffs which are designed to be simple.

In the UK, GiffGaff allows you to choose a data bundle, which can be altered at the end of every month dependent on your usage. Even when you use all your data, there are no penalty fees which some will dread, you are just prompted to renew your bundle a couple of days early. With Google Fi, the process is slightly different, but just as simple. You pay $20 for unlimited SMS and voice, and then $10 for every GB of data you use, with the bill capped at $60. Yes, it could be cheaper, but don’t forget this is the US where tariffs are incredibly expensive, however like GiffGaff it is simple and flexible, just what today’s consumer is demanding.

Today’s announcement not only rebrands the service to make it official and here to stay, but also expands the number of devices which it is compatible on. The service is now available on ‘most Android devices’, not just the ones which Google sells, but also the iPhone.

MVNOs are never going to take over the US, that is not the way the industry is structured, but with a well-known (and mostly liked) brand and adventurous markets with big budgets, it could certainly make an interesting business.

Ericsson Media Solutions gets a rebrand

Ericsson flogged the majority of its media solutions division to private equity at the start of the year and it has just got around to reflecting that in the brand.

The days of cruel, callous media are behind us, it seems, and henceforth Ericsson Media Solutions will be known as MediaKind. So happy are Ericsson and One Equity Partners with this rebrand that they celebrated with a bunch of live events today, at which a new management team was also unveiled.

There’s a unique type of language used with corporate rebrands – the kind of abstract, aspirational stuff that gets marketing people up in the morning. Here’s a sample:

Designed to embody the concept that media should inspire and unite humankind, MediaKind draws on Ericsson’s 150-year heritage of bringing communities together through pioneering fixed and mobile communications and unites a number of media technology pioneers under one common identity.

It addresses a new age where media is the fabric of society, captivating audiences, changing perceptions and bringing us together. MediaKind’s mission is to lead the future of global media technology and be the first choice for service providers, operators, content owners and broadcasters looking to create and deliver immersive media experiences for everyone, everywhere.

MediaKind CEO Angle Ruiz seems to dig all this marketing talk “We understand the power of media and how it is evolving,” he said. “It runs in our DNA and it’s our passion. With our pioneering heritage and strong foundations fueled by deep innovation, we have a single goal in mind: to enable our customers to create and deliver immersive media experiences.”

And it goes without saying that CMO Arun Bhikshesvaran is all over it. “Media has the power to inspire, influence and be truly immersive – the very embodiment of our exciting new MediaKind brand,” he said.

“Media unites us all and MediaKind is uniquely positioned to drive the human entertainment experience forward for everyone, everywhere. We have the right technologies, an outstanding team and deep media know-how – a combination that will enable us to provide the leadership our customers need during a period of great transformation to a new multi-screen, on-demand and immersive world of entertainment.”

Analyst Paolo Pescatore was there and hopes the rebrand will be more than skin deep. “Finally, the unit can get on it with business,” he said. “This represents a new start and it must deliver. No more second chances. Arguably, the unit should be well placed to exploit the opportunities in convergence underpinned by the growing demand of video usage. The equity firm can ensure a commercially minded focus, while it can still rely on Ericsson’s vast technical expertise and huge connections to thrive.

“There will be obstacles that it still needs to overcome. In particular regaining trust among existing and new customers. The new brand and future plans will go some way to restore confidence and rebuild credibility with the burgeoning media and telco industries.”

That’s about it for now, apart from the full new management team and, of course, a slick video. Here they are:

  • Angel Ruiz, Chief Executive Officer
  • Gowton Achaibar, COO & Head of R&D
  • Heather Andrade-Neumann, Chief People Officer
  • Arun Bhikshesvaran, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Misty Kawecki, Chief Financial Officer
  • Mark Russell, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer
  • Sven Bolthausen, SVP Commercial Management & Sales Support
  • Alex Borland, SVP EMEA Sales
  • Clayton Cruz, SVP Latin American Sales
  • Steve Payne, SVP North America Sales
  • Ken Yap, SVP North East Asia Sales