A constant pain, a Chinese startup, and a category domain
February 2, 2019 (Sat). How do you feel if you have to enter a password in order to use the free WiFi service of a store? How much pain is it when you are shopping at various stores? There is a simple solution, and, surprisingly, it comes from China. This story also reveals the ownership of a category domain.
The solution is provided in the form of a mobile app called WiFi Master Key. The first time you visit a store, you use the app to enter the password issued by the store. The password is then uploaded to the cloud and becomes available for all subsequent visitors to this store using the app. The process is automatic so that customers can focus on the shopping experience without the WiFi connection trouble. Over time, as passwords of all popular stores are stored in the cloud, you can hop from store to store while the WiFi connection switches automatically for you.
This app is the work of a little-known startup called LinkSure in Shanghai. As reported by TechCrunch, "WiFi Master Key was China’s fifth-largest app and the world’s ninth largest by monthly active users in 2018." Its 800 million monthly active users worldwide are more than twice the entire population of the USA! This shows you the power of the internet to enable anyone to become a global player.
The WiFi Master Key creator may be small but it projects an image of a global player, by owning the brand-matching domain Wifi.com which they likely acquired in 2015. The domain was sold for $225,000 in 2006 and later had an asking price of above $1.5 million before it was acquired by the startup, so the price was definitely expensive.
Why such a big investment in a domain? WiFi.com represents the category of all WiFi products and services. "WiFi" is a common term with strong interest from consumers around the world. Owning a category domain gives you authority of that category. It tells consumers you are number one in that category.