Starbucks recently announced that it will be ditching their current wireless provider T-Mobile and going with AT&T which will be offering free WiFi service. Starbucks Card holders will now get 2 free hours of WiFi everyday. AT&T Internet and Broadband subscribers score big time because they will now receive free unlimited WiFi at all 70,000 AT&T WiFi locations.
If two hours is not long enough for you then you can purchase an extra two hours for $3.99 which is pretty reasonable considering their old rate of $6 an hour (Are you kidding me?). Even better you can purchase a monthly subscription for $19.95. This new service will be available in Spring 2008.
I suspect you will see a lot more people at with laptops and wireless devices at Starbucks soon. Personally I enjoy bringing my laptop to Starbucks once in a while to do some work and for a change of scenery but I find it hard to get a good seat sometimes.
With Howard Schultz now back as CEO of Starbucks you are see Starbucks becoming much more “Third Place” friendly. He feels like the Starbucks brand was being watered down and is looking to build up the “Starbucks Experience” instead going for quick profits.
“Low Tech/High Tech at Starbucks”, Photo Courtesy of StarbucksGuy
Free WiFi is awesome, but I wouldn’t mind see a bunch of other improvements to the make Starbucks even more “Third Place” friendly.
10 Things to Make Starbucks Even More “Third Place” Friendly
- More Tables, Less Shelves – Get rid of those shelves with merchandise and replace them with more tables and chairs. Many times I go in a Starbucks and there is no where to sit and I don’t see too many people actually buy those overpriced coffee mugs and coffee presses.
- More Power Outlets – Anybody that has ever brought their computer to Starbucks knows that the table next to the power outlets are almost always taken. It is also the best seat in the house. Come on Starbucks give us some juice.
- Cleaner Tables and Chairs – I don’t mean to be a germ freak but I would rather stand then sit at some of the Starbucks that I have been in. It is the little things that matter and this is one thing could set them apart.
- Cleaner Bathrooms – Again, it is the little things that matter.
- Allow Customers to Queue Up Music – I think it would be cool if customers could queue up music to be played in the store. I think this could be a fun and interactive thing that could easily be implemented on default WiFi portal web page.
- Printing Services Anyone? – It would be awesome if I could print out documents to a print server for a fee. Again, I think this could be implemented on default WiFi portal web page.
- Web Cam & Traffic Meter – I think it would be cool to go online and see if a certain Starbucks is very busy or empty. This would help people decide what time or which Starbucks they should meet or go to. I don’t know what the privacy issues are with this but I think they could also provide some sort to tracking system to show how busy a certain store is. Nobody likes to go to a store and wait 45 minutes to get a table or have to go to another store.
- Less Round Tables – Anyone that has used a laptop on a round table will know my pain. Rectangular or square table are much more laptop friendly. Round tables have their advantages too but I would like to see less of them.
- Free Premium Content – How about making deals with magazines publishers or sites like the Wall Street Journal Online and offering paid premium content online for free. The back-end revenue would be from customers that stay longer and drink more overpriced coffee (gulp). I believe Starbucks has already done a similar promotion offering free Apple iTunes songs at their stores.
- Smarter Rewards – Since much more people will be using their Starbucks Card now they could use all that wonderfully evil statistical information to offer discounts and encourage customers to spend more. Grocery stores already do this but I think Starbucks could go one step further by integrating this into their WiFi portal.
As you can see many of these ideas are win-win. Free WiFi is a good start, Still a $3 coffee is still a $3 coffee. I wonder if other retailers are going to up the ante. What ideas do you have?
Photo Credits: mini K,