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Starbucks Announces Free Wi-Fi, Proprietary Content Network

  • Wired, Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:42 AM
Starbucks will offer free Wi-Fi in all of its locations starting July 1, CEO Howard Schultz announced yesterday, and will add exclusive free content when it launches Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo and other sites, this fall.

Shultz hopes to make money from these initiatives indirectly, Eliot Van Buskirk reports, by "enhanc[ing] the experience" and making the content "so compelling that it drives incremental traffic." He says that the free Wi-Fi is "just the price of admission" and that the company wants to create new sources of content that can be viewed only at Starbucks.

Customers will log into the network with a unique identifier, potentially allowing for targeted messaging. Focus groups have been receptive to the tradeoff, according to Shultz. Starbucks is talking to AOL's about having it create local content for the network, and free online access to the Wall Street Journal will also be available.



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