: Silicon Insights: The Death of Ricochet

James Hong
Thu, 23 Aug 2001 16:53:53 -0700

On that note...

I have three ricochet 128k external modems.. anyone interested in buying
them? Maybe they'll be worth something someday!


XMethods web service listings -

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Masnick" <>
To: <>; "Matt Bolcer" <>
Cc: "FoRK" <>; "Art Muir" <>
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2001 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: : Silicon Insights: The Death of Ricochet

> I would, did, and would continue to pay for it (I'd even pay more for it,
> if it would help).  I started using Ricochet back when they only offered
> at 28k and loved it then.  At 128k (I usually was getting closer to 150k)
> it was absolutely worth every penny and more.
> Metricom made a ton of mistakes (some of which I told to people there, but
> they weren't going to listen to me).
> Among the mistakes that they made (in my mind) not discussed in the
> 1.  Wrong target market.  What they had was really a very good competitor
> to DSL or cable - with certain benefits.  They had solved the last mile
> problem.  In places where you could get ricochet they just send you a
> modem, you plugged it in, and you were ready to go.  No installation to
> deal with.  The speeds were a little slower (depending on where you were)
> but certainly good enough for a lot of people.  I used to use my ricochet
> on my desktop machine for fast access as well.  Instead, they thought they
> were targeting "mobile professionals".  The mobile part, to me (and to
> other ricochet users I know) was a nice side effect - but not the main
> reason we used it.  It was our high speed access - and it was good and
> reliable (unlike my two month adventure with DSL which was painful and it
> never worked).  Since ricochet died, I'm back to using dialup in my house.
> I'm right in the center of the Bay Area and I can't get any high speed
> access.  Lovely.
> 2.  Wrong price.  As such, they should have priced it $20 to $30 lower.
> they saw it as a competing product to DSL or cable they should have priced
> it between $40 and $50 a month.  They finally started doing this in the
> month or so before they shut down, and a lot more people subscribed.  I
> know a bunch of people who had made it clear they would certainly buy in
> $50/month.  While the amount made per customer might go down - the overall
> revenue brought in would increase significantly - and there's no reason to
> think with that many more customers they couldn't drive down there costs
> and regain the margins anyway.
> 3.  Horrible marketing.  Did you see their commercials?  They seemed to
> think their target market was the James Bond wannabe as opposed to the
> every day user who wanted high speed access.
> 4.  Reseller confusion.  Instead of selling directly (as they did with the
> 28.8k version) they went with resellers.  The only reseller who actually
> cared about offering ricochet was tiny WWC.  No one else promoted it at
> all.  Worldcom, who invested a ton of money into Metricom never even
> bothered to try to offer it to customers.
> 5.  Brand confusion.  Metricom?  Ricochet?  WWC?  What am I getting here
> and who is it from?
> 6.  Bad segmentation.  Rather, no segmentation until the very end.  There
> was one price, one plan - and most people didn't like it.  It wouldn't
> been hard to charge more for "roaming", or to charge different rates for
> different speeds (they did try this, again, when they only had one month
> cash left).
> 7.  Terrible market research.  To the end they never looked at what people
> were using it for.  They still assumed that the mobile part was the main
> reason people bought the ricochet.  The mobile part was nice (in the past
> months alone I used it all over the Bay Area, in Phoenix, in San Diego,
> in LA - I'd be using it in NY when I go there in November, but now it's
> dead).  They never realized what their actual customers thought the value
> proposition was - and continued to insist it had to be something else.
> I'm still waiting for the results of last Thursday's auction.  Apparently
> fewer than expected companies showed up, and chances are my two ricochet
> modems are paper weights now.  However, I'm still hoping that someone
> realizes there's a really useful wireless network out there.
> Despite what the article says about people not wanting to sit in their
> cars, or coffee shops and boot up (and I did all those things), what they
> forget is that people also could use the ricochet while sitting in their
> office or sitting in someone else's office or sitting in their home, or
> sitting at a hotel, or at an airport.  And it was all included in the
> monthly fee.
> As for the "instant on" thing, that's a laptop problem - and not a
> problem.  The ricochet was pretty much instant on.  You clicked "connect"
> and you were on.  When I travel with my laptop, I usually put it into
> mode, so, as far as I was concerned it was pretty much instant on, always
> connected for me.
> Of all the tech company deaths, Metricom's has hit me the hardest.  There
> simply is no subsitute that is anywhere near as useful as it was to me,
> I haven't seen anything that looks like it will be showing up in the near
> future either.
>  -Mike
> At 03:01 PM 8/23/01 -0700, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> >I wouldn't pay for it either. Looked really cool, they just
> >needed more operations.  34,000 to 52,000 x $80/month should have been
> more than
> >enough to keep them floating. That's $2,720,000 to $4,160,000 monsconies.
> >
> >I also agree, instant on is a key factor.
> >
> >Greg
> >
> >Matt Bolcer wrote:
> >>
> >> Greg, lessons to be learned from Ricochet's failure.
> >> Dad
> >>
> >>
> 10813.html
> >
> >--
> >Gregory Alan Bolcer        |  | work: 949.833.2800
> >Chief Technology Officer   |   | cell: 714.928.5476
> >Endeavors Technology, Inc. | efax: 603.994.0516     | wap:  949.278.2805
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >