Back when the Zune dropped (and kept dropping…) I was talking with a friend about the features – specifically the wifi that came built-in. While the product as a whole seemed like a brick, there was something interesting about having a media device with ad-hoc wifi enabled. He envisioned a new wave of advertising directed squarely at these Zune users. Had Microsoft had their heads on straight, this type of service should have been launched along with their “iPod Killer”.
Fast forward a few months from then, and the iPhone is kicking butt and taking names. Then a wifi store is given us, along with an interesting feature collaboration with Starbucks: buy the music you hear in the coffee shop over their wifi! This feature hasn’t gotten the attention I would have expected. But essentially, Apple has launched the type of initiative that Microsoft missed out on earlier in the year.
It starts with Starbucks – hear a song you like while sipping a latte, connect your iPhone to their wifi, buy it. Take it a step further, and when you walk into a Target, Nordstroms, or Sephora (for example) and get targeted deals sent right to your promiscuous iPhone. Obviously you don’t have to choose to view it, or use the wifi in such stores, but there’s the model! Maybe this Starbucks collaboration will lead to essentially free (ad-driven) wifi in more places. This could really turn the tide as it seems more and more wifi is closing the doors to being offered up for free.
I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a targeted ad, sale-priced items, or a quick 30-second commercial if it meant I could grab some free wifi in most of the places I frequent. Obviously this doesn’t apply just to the iPhone, but I think it’s interesting that such a model of advertising could be around the corner because of it.