My daughter, the world traveler, pulled out her Apple iPhone and FaceTimed me from a restaurant in Tel Aviv this morning; my time 5:30 a.m. in California, and her time about 10 hours later. She's visiting, for the second time, acting as tour guide for my mother.
Our first FaceTime experience spanning continents began when I sat down at my computer to read email this morning. The top one from her read: "I tried to FaceTime you, but it didn't work. Are you awake?" So I turned on the Wi-Fi access for my iPhone, wrote back, and asked her to try again. It worked. She held up the iPhone and panned the area so I could see the surroundings.
Before arriving at the Tel Aviv restaurant, part of an old converted train station with shops, my daughter took a walk on the beach. Some of the beaches had areas for swimming, but regulated by gender with alternate days for men and women.
After marveling at the fact that I had just connected with my daughter face-to-face from half a world away through FaceTime, I thought about the lack of Wi-Fi access at public locations in the United States -- and how an increase would spur search, display and other types of ad sales. Never mind smartphones -- tablet use would increase in the United States if more restaurants and businesses could provide public Wi-Fi access and prompt the rise of search and display ad targeting.
My daughter told me it's common for consumer businesses in Israel to provide public Wi-Fi access. In the United States, consistent connectivity to Wi-Fi would increase the number of tablets used in stores. JiWire's Q1 Insights Report released earlier this week discovered that consumers In the U.S. use public Wi-Fi from mobile devices like smartphones, 31%, and tablets, 14%, but laptop connections fell to 55% from 70% last year.
JiWire, which serves ads to more than 30,000 Wi-Fi locations in North America, says that nine out of 10 consumers believe the advantages of choosing public Wi-Fi rather than 3G/4G on smartphones include better connection speed, at 55%. About 37% of respondents said they use public Wi-Fi to avoid data plan charges, 17% use it for streaming content, and 7% use it to avoid laptop tethering. And only 10% of mobile users indicate that they do not use public Wi-Fi, opting instead to connect with 3G/4G and/or exclusively use broadband cards.
Technology -- what a wonderful tool.