Ubiquitous coffee shop Starbucks will now offer free Wifi in all stores
after years of charging customers to access the Internet. The policy
change goes into effect on July 1 in 6,700 U.S. Starbucks locations. The
stores will also offer special Web content designed to bring in
customers. Here's why they made the decision and what it means.
- Starbucks to Provide Exclusive Online Content ReadWriteWeb's Frederic Lardinois
explains, "According to Starbucks, this new service, called the
'Starbucks Digital Network,' will give users who surf the Internet from
U.S. company owned stores access to 'various paid sites and services
such as wsj.com, exclusive content and previews, free downloads, local
community news and activities, on their laptops, tablets or smart
phones.' Besides the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks' partners include
Apple's iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, Yahoo and ZAGAT."
Store Becomes Nexus of Hyper-Local, Targeted Content Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk writes,
"none of Starbucks’ direct competitors have their own localized content
networks on the level of what Schulz described. In some communities,
Starbucks functions as a sort of community center — a 'third place'
between home and the office, in Schulz’s words — and this infusion of
local news and information, along with a free way to get it, could
enhance that effect."
News From the Neighborhood TechCrunch's Leena Rao explains, "When you go to Starbucks and log-in
to wifi, you’ll be served with
targeted content and news from Yahoo. Schultz also mentioned that the
company is working with AOL to integrate local content from Patch in the
- Your Internet Access Sites: Work, Home, Starbucks
TechCrunch's Leena Rao writes, "Schultz said
at the conference that the company aims to launch its own digital
network by creating a third place between home and work. Starbucks wants
to create proprietary way to give access to new sources of information
and content that you can get only at Starbucks. He addded, 'The rules of
engagement in building a major brand have changed forever. The consumer
is so cynical and distrusting of everything, there has to be a level of
intimacy and trust.'"
- Bringing Competition to McDonald's
The Associated Press calls
this "part of an ongoing effort to bring more customers in the door.
The Wi-Fi access, which will eventually include a new network of news
and entertainment content exclusively for customers, comes as Starbucks
works to take business back from rivals like McDonald's Corp. and
independent cafes that have long offered free Internet."
We'll Get to Universal Free Wifi Aaron Muszalski tweets, "Sadly, given Starbucks
ubiquity, this may be the closest we get to nationwide municipal
Internet access for years." LifeHacker's Adam Pash adds, "regardless of the
quality of their coffee, I suppose there are worse things than free
Wi-Fi on every corner."
- 'What Took Them So Long' So
wonders liberal blogger Duncan "Atrios" Black.
"I've long been puzzled by the persistence of pay-for-Wifi in places
like Starbucks and especially at would-be competitors where free wifi
could provide them with a bit of an advantage. Maybe they knew what they
were doing, or maybe it just hurts to give away anything for free"
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