Targeting McDonald's, Starbucks Offers Free Wi-Fi

Unlimited Internet access comes with new content system
By Marie Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2010 5:50 PM CDT
Targeting McDonald's, Starbucks Offers Free Wi-Fi
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the first Starbucks in Hong Kong, April 15, 2010.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Starbucks will offer free unlimited Wi-Fi at its company-owned stores starting July 1. Battered by the recession and the successful challenge mounted by McDonald's, the coffee giant will also plug its customers into customized content—including free access to pay sites like the Wall Street Journal's, Frank James blogs for NPR. The goal is to draw users in and keep them around, notes the LA Times.

Cue the privacy concerns: "Each customer must log in with a unique identifier, so Starbucks won’t only know where you are, but who you are, potentially allowing for targeted messaging to offset cost further," writes Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired.
The real question, James notes, is how Starbucks "will keep some customers from parking at its store's tables from opening to closing time just so they can use free wireless connection."

(Read more Starbucks stories.)

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