Print 35 comment(s) - last by seamonkey79.. on Feb 20 at 9:20 AM

Starbucks gets a new partner for customer WiFi access

Coffee means big business here in the United States. Starbucks grew from its humble roots in the Northwest to a point now where you can find at least a few within a 5 mile radius in any major U.S. city. Fast food chain McDonalds has even gotten in on the act to cash in on the success of “premium” coffee.

In an attempt to provide a better "in store experience" for its customers and to distance itself from a growing McDonalds threat, Starbucks today announced a new strategic alliance to provide WiFi service to customers. Beginning in the spring of 2008, 7,000+ Starbucks stores in the U.S. will switch from T-Mobile WiFi access to AT&T.

“As we continue to build our technology offerings in ways that both enhance and expand the Starbucks Experience for our customers, we made a strategic decision to expand our existing relationship with our longtime technology partner AT&T to include consumer Wi-Fi,” said Starbucks CTO Chris Bruzzo.

Starbucks notes that its customers that wish to continue using T-Mobile Hotspot access will be able to do so seamlessly thanks to an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

According to the company, Starbucks cardholders will be allotted two hours of free WiFi access per day at Starbucks stores. As reported by DailyTech in late January, existing AT&T broadband and AT&T U-verse customers will have access to free WiFi at any time.

“This is what our customers have been waiting for — free Starbucks-quality Wi-Fi,” Bruzzo continued. “Through our new partnership with AT&T, we also welcome their millions of current customers who can now come in and enjoy free Wi-Fi as part of their daily Starbucks Experience.”

Customers without a Starbucks card or an AT&T broadband account will pay $3.99 for two hours of service or $19.99 for a month's worth of surfing.

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Growing McDonald's threat?
By TerranMagistrate on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Brandon Hill on 2/11/2008 1:05:50 PM , Rating: 5
McDonalds is committed to opening 14,000 McCafe locations (ones which serve the premium coffee, fraps, etc.).

And McDonalds has done better than Starbucks in taste tests (that's not hard to do though). Their prices are cheaper as well across the board.

So yeah, I'd say they are a growing threat.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By BladeVenom on 2/11/2008 1:09:41 PM , Rating: 4
But there's the image factor. Certain people actually think they are getting better coffee because they overpay.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Brandon Hill on 2/11/2008 1:13:31 PM , Rating: 3
"A fool and his money are soon parted."

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By christojojo on 2/11/2008 1:19:39 PM , Rating: 5
"A fool and his money are soon parted."

Funny, that's the exact same thing my father told me when I announced I was getting married. ;)

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Mitch101 on 2/11/2008 2:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
McCafe's were put into the Cary, NC area and a Starbucks hasn't been seen since. I mentioned where is a Starbucks and she stated they dont have any since McCafe went in Starbucks cant compete. Might be time to buy some stock in McDonalds.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Brandon Hill on 2/11/2008 2:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
There are plenty of new Starbucks in the area. I live about 5 mins from Cary.

There's a new one in Crossroads across from Toys R Us/Best Buy and there's a new Starbucks a few miles down the road on the corner of Tryon and Walnut in the new shopping center with the upcoming Harris Teeter.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Mitch101 on 2/11/2008 5:23:48 PM , Rating: 2
We almost moved to Apex, NC. Cary was overflowing into Apex it seemed. Roads seemed over congested and not expanding fast enough to handle the load though. We settled into Charlotte in the end.

So overall how do you feel McCafe is doing? Judging that there are several competitors in the area its easy to say there are enough coffee drinkers to go around. Happy to see we 2 dunkin doughnuts by me in Charlotte area. Im guessing McDonalds thinks they are worth it by them going to open so many locations.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Samus on 2/11/2008 2:15:52 PM , Rating: 1
People know starbucks is a better organization to support, too. Their employee's are happier, make more money, and all receive benifits (even the part time people who work 20 hours)

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By dryloch on 2/11/2008 11:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
I know firsthand that there are several McDonalds Operators that offer benefits where I live. When the employees hear it will cost 20.00 a month out of their own pocket to chip in a lot of them won't do it. You can't force people to get insurance if they don't want it.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By seamonkey79 on 2/20/2008 9:20:58 AM , Rating: 2
You can't force people to get insurance if they don't want it.

Unless you're a Democrat...

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Griswold on 2/11/2008 2:41:39 PM , Rating: 1
And the majority of people think they know what good coffee tastes like.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By TerranMagistrate on 2/11/2008 1:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if you put it that why. But better tasting? For real?

By TerranMagistrate on 2/11/2008 1:15:29 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By bhieb on 2/11/2008 1:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes for real

Keep in mind taste is very subjective, and a bunch of people have been drinking MD coffee for years. Things that taste "normal" will usually be considered "better" than new foods. Therefore the person who stops by MD every morning for breakfast, and also gets coffee, will think it tastes better just because it is familiar. Starbucks has changed that a little with it's "try something new" attitude, and the image that people get from that. But at the end of the day MD coffee is really pretty good, and a better value.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By omnicronx on 2/11/2008 1:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
From what i get here, they were not serving regular mcdees coffee. They were testing their new premium coffee's that would compete directly with Starbucks. I really doubt Macdonald's is going to go after Starbucks with their run of the mill coffee that they have been using for the past 50 years.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2008 2:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've heard they're not. McDonald's has gone upscale with coffee, complete with Barista's and the whole shebang. Haven't tried it myself (I'm someone who has roasted my own green coffee beans bought from a wholesaler) but I've talked to some who have and they report that it's very good. But then to me Starbucks coffee is only "better than average".

Environment at a Starbucks is probably better than McDonald's though, and that's a big portion of Starbuck's success.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 1:16:30 PM , Rating: 1
McDonald's isn't anywhere near even approaching Starbucks as any sort of threat. Chances are they never will be either.

I disagree - in addition to what Brandon mentioned, I'd add that McDonald's already has a massive number of stores globally, and the incremental cost for them to add premium coffee is just a tiny fraction of what it costs Starbucks to open an entirely new store.

I obviously do think that Starbucks has better brand recognition in premium coffee, but if McDonald's plays their cards right, they could readily develop a similar reputation, e.g., by having a superior product (by all accounts they do already) and by marketing it better.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By Domicinator on 2/11/2008 7:31:54 PM , Rating: 1
I don't know about any of you guys, but I'm actually hesitant to take my laptop into a McDonald's, no matter how desperate I may be for internet access. Working at restaurants all through college taught me one thing: everything in a restaurant is greasy, especially if they sell pizza or fast food. Even the AIR in one of those places seems greasy. I don't know, maybe I'm just anal. I'd actually rather pay more for my lunch to get the free internet access at Panera. It's a cleaner environment, and much safer for my laptop. :)

HOWEVER, if I can walk into a Starbucks with my fancy card and get two hours free just by buying a cup of coffee, that's an offer I can't refuse. I don't even like Starbucks coffee, but I can get used to it.

RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By HrilL on 2/11/2008 8:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure my local McDonalds also has free wifi. So that is also a plus.

T-Mobile to ATT
By retrospooty on 2/11/2008 1:13:37 PM , Rating: 1
Is that going from bas to worse, or from worse to bad?

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 1:19:41 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think the end user will notice much difference between the two vendors - they'll just notice the different brand name. WiFi is kind of at the point where it "just works" from a technical standpoint - wireless router plugged into a DSL connection - not exactly rocket science.

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By christojojo on 2/11/2008 1:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
not exactly rocket science.

Have you actually dealt with AT&T lately?

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 1:44:59 PM , Rating: 1
I use AT&T DSL daily - no complaints - it's fast, reliable, and cheap.

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By omnicronx on 2/11/2008 2:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
The quality of your DSL connection often has to do with the distance your house is from the relay points. In my area we are just on the edge of two relay points, so our DSL service is not very good. But go down the road 3 KM, and the service is pristine.

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By retrospooty on 2/12/2008 9:57:22 AM , Rating: 2
No, I honestly have not. I have dealt with them alot up until 3 years ago when I quit dealing with them altogether.

Why, do they not suck now?

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By Souka on 2/11/2008 2:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
This blows for my company....

We have T-mobile phones with wi-fi capability...users tether their phones and use T-mobile hotspots for FREE....

Many use Starbucks (sales people) that's gonna cost...lame...

RE: T-Mobile to ATT
By jkresh on 2/11/2008 6:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article? Unless I am mistaken they mentioned that T-mobile wi-fi will still work (as they have a deal with ATT).

oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
By pauluskc on 2/11/2008 12:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
now my iPod will be on its home network while they're brewing my coffee for my morning blog run! Yay me!

RE: oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
By pauluskc on 2/11/2008 1:01:42 PM , Rating: 4
(disclaimers) I meant iPhone. I don't actually have one. I drink Dr. Pepper. I only blog when I'm bored. I haven't set foot inside a SBucks in several years (heck, it's wifi, why go inside?). Oh just nevermind.

RE: oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
By christojojo on 2/11/2008 1:23:07 PM , Rating: 2

This might help you. (JK)

By stburke on 2/11/2008 12:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
If I spend $7 on coffee, they could at least give me a half hour free. damn.

RE: still...
By Brandon Hill on 2/11/2008 12:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
$7? Damn. I thought $4 for a Grande Caramel Frap was expensive :D

RE: still...
By thestereotype on 2/11/2008 10:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
Great F-ING Move!!
By TimberJon on 2/11/2008 2:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not going to say that AT&T has the best, uninterrupted service... but they have the blanket and resources to make their network better. Plus T-Mobile was just a third party startup that was piggybacking.

I will be happy to subscribe or whatever to the AT&T wifi for laptop use.

Is there a list of future/current locations for this Mc Cafe saturation launch? I'm curious to find out what their nutrition facts are on syrups, Etc... compared to Starbucks. Not like that will affect 98% of buyers...

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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