Cablevision’s WiFi calling service: another reason you don’t need an iPhone

Chris Burns - Jan 26, 2015, 12:27 pm CST
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Cablevision’s WiFi calling service: another reason you don’t need an iPhone

This week the folks at Cablevision released a WiFi calling service called Freewheel without the iPhone and without the Samsung Galaxy S5. What does this say to the two biggest names in smartphone manufacturing inside the United States? What does it say to those consumers that seek out Samsung or Apple because they’ve seen their friends using said brands on phones? It says – clearly – that you don’t need a top-end phone to go about your normal, everyday smartphone business. And you don’t need a Galaxy phone or an iPhone to launch a nation’s-first service like all-WiFi calling.

Disruption #1

The disruption here comes in at two points. One is the bit where Freewheel creates a WiFi network connection for phone calls. That one app – that one tiny bit of hardware that allows you to speak on the phone using cellular service – is about to go out the door.

Not any time soon, of course. Imagine heading in to a department store to pick up a lightbulb that didn’t look like the lightbulb you’ve already got in your lamp. Manufacturers of high-efficiency lightbulbs have been forced to create bulbs that look like traditional bulbs because people trust what they know.

Much in the same way, people aren’t going to be ready to pick up WiFi calling right away.

There’s a trust issue.

To help people out, Freewheel is launching with a phone that’s able to be manufactured and sold at a relatively low cost – the Motorola Moto G.

Could Cablevision have launched with a more well-known smartphone? Probably not. Unless Apple or Samsung are planning on making this big move to WiFi calling look like it was their own idea, they’re not about to join up with a company suggesting they’ve started this revolution.

Disruption #2

The other disruption comes with the willingness of the people to live with a smartphone that’s not highest-end. The first version of the Moto G was a risky launch on Motorola’s part – turned out it was an amazingly well targeted risk, and Motorola decided to keep the ball rolling with a second.

Motorola has suggested that the Moto G is the best selling smartphone in company history.

This smartphone takes on specifications that match high-end smartphones from 2 and even 3 years ago. It’s not meant to battle the highest-end smartphones on the market today. But it does do battle with them – in places like this.

Could Cablevision push Motorola back into a leader spot with Apple and Samsung with this WiFi calling service? Probably not. That’s not what this is about.

Instead, this is another dot straying from the grid – another outlier that’s adding to the ever-expanding variety of angles at which the smart device industry is being seen by the public and used by individuals. Expect more Moto G action from Motorola soon – Lenovo’s already bringing the heat.


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