TLP: Someone Needs a Quad Blackeye
Wasn't it supposed to be a cliche' that free Wifi in coffee shops was a lose-lose proposition? You know, that deadbeat writers and mommy bloggers would take up real estate for the price of that one cup they'd nurse all morning? Why does @Starbucks think this is a win-win?
The company said on Monday that as of July 1, its stores in the United States would offer free Wi-Fi, via AT&T, that anyone can reach with a single click. In case customers run out of distractions on the Web, Starbucks is giving them even more reason to sit and browse, offering free online articles, music, videos and local information through a partnership with Yahoo.Layoffs, store closings, a breakfast menu, Via instant and pricing to compete with "upscale" fastfood coffee marketed to compete with Starbucks were all designed to cut costs and build business. Where does free WiFi fit into that?
Starbucks has been squeezed lately by competition from both independent specialty coffee shops, which have long offered free Wi-Fi, and big chains like McDonald’s, which added it this year.
“Starbucks hit back,” said Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, a social media marketing agency, who blogs about working on the go. “They said, ‘Not only do we have free Wi-Fi, but we’re going to offer this huge raft of digital products you can get while you’re here, and you like our coffee better anyway.’ ”
Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, who made the announcement at a conference in New York, described it as a way to bridge the online world and real-world coffee outlets.
Of course, people have been bridging those worlds for years, using coffee shops as pseudo-offices by bringing their laptops and borrowing free Internet connections. But Starbucks has never offered unlimited free Internet access.