Starbucks: Publisher, Wi-Fi Operator, Coffee Shop
Starbucks today announced details for the launch of its digital network over its free Wi-Fi with exclusive content from Apple and The New York Times and others. No money will exchange hands between Starbucks and the content providers, and the Starbucks Digital Network (SDN) will be free to customers.
Starting this fall, Starbucks customers can log on and explore the SDN's six channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business & Careers, My Neighborhood and Starbucks.
What's in it for Starbucks? Another reason to choose Starbucks over the corner café and longer sessions that could mean more cups of coffee. Computer users spend about one hour per visit on Wi-Fi, while mobile users average 15 minutes of browsing time, according to the company. Starbucks launched its free Wi-Fi last month.
What's in it for the content providers? An engaging way to reach new customers.
But most important, what's in it for you?
In the news channel, customers will have complete content from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times. Brotman said material from USA Today and The New York Times will be the paid versions not available for free outside SDN.
Free iTunes downloads will be offered on the entertainment channel with more from Apple in the future. Customers with computer-equipped kids can tune into Nick Jr. Boost that includes educational games that the site usually charges for outside of SDN. The future may include exclusive ebook downloads and social games to connect users across the network.
The health channel will be driven by Rodale, a leading health and wellness publisher whose brands include Runner's World, Bicycling and Women's Health. Rodale will offer customized content for SDN including interactive features where runners and bikers can create their own routes. The Run, Ride and Walk Finder online application will provide access to geo-targeted maps of more than 300,000 routes that highlight Starbucks stores along the way, and customers can upload their own trails that begin or end at their local Starbucks.
Yahoo is set to power the business channel and search for SDN.
Localized content will populate the fifth channel, My Neighborhood, and include Zagat restaurant ratings when customers need something more substantial than coffee and cake.
The Starbucks Digital Network could be a win for all concerned according to Keith Nissen, principal analyst for digital media at In-Stat.
"Starbucks needs to find ways to rebound slumping sales, content producers — especially media outlets — have a new way to monetize their content, which consumers won't pay for otherwise," Nissen said.
"For consumers, access to free premium content, in conjunction with coffee products they already love, creates a Starbucks user experience that is more highly valued than coffee alone."
Nissen told TechNewsDaily that while few companies have the brand dominance to pull off such an ambitious project, although McDonalds probably could.
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