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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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RE: Growing McDonald's threat?
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 1:16:30 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
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.


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