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Summary:

While you’re enjoying a cup of joe in a local cafe, the folks sitting around you typing on their laptops and smartphones could very well be purchasing something online. Nearly 38 percent of people who use a cafe’s Wi-Fi say they make an online purchase during […]

iStock_000001567953XSmallWhile you’re enjoying a cup of joe in a local cafe, the folks sitting around you typing on their laptops and smartphones could very well be purchasing something online. Nearly 38 percent of people who use a cafe’s Wi-Fi say they make an online purchase during their visit, according to the findings of a report released today from mobile media company JiWire. Of those, more than half say they’re making a personal buy, while just 15 percent say they’re making a business purchase.

In addition, the iPhone and iPod touch are hugely popular with the cafe crowd, the report reveals. The two Apple devices account for a whopping 98 percent of mobile gadgets used in cafes with Wi-Fi. About 54.2 percent and 43.4 percent of people using Wi-Fi in a cafe say they use the iPhone and iPod touch, respectively. (For more on the iPhone, check out our upcoming Mobilize 09 conference.) And although 74 percent of the cafe Wi-Fi crowd use PC laptops, over one-quarter are Mac users — which is notable given that Apple accounts for just 7.4 percent of the U.S. market share for notebooks. To boost its share even more, maybe Apple should target cafe goers in the future. Though it’s partnered with Starbucks before for iTunes promotions, Apple could try coming up with a clever campaign tied in with the coffee chain to boost MacBook sales.

Other notable statistics in the JiWire report are:

  • The first half of this year saw 9 percent growth in worldwide public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • As of June, the U.S. had the highest number of public Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide (67,420), followed by China (28,678) , U.K. (27,459) , France (25,619) and Russia (14,499).
  • New York had the highest number of public Wi-Fi hotspots out of all U.S. cities (887) as of June. San Francisco (872) came in second, and Chicago (792) trailed behind in third. Stacey’s hometown of Austin, Texas, (417) rounded out the list by taking the 10th slot.
  • 85 percent of Wi-Fi cafe users connect to the web at least once a week, and 68 percent stay connected for over an hour.
  • 53 percent of Wi-Fi cafe users say they go to social media sites during their visits.

Facebook, MySpace and Twitter may want to start reaching out to large chains such as Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee. Thanks to Wi-Fi’s growing ubiquity, more people are choosing to stare at their computer screens in places other than their homes or offices.

jiwire

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  1. The number about online purchases made while in cafe wifi is alarming – unless every one of these folks understands wifi security, etc..

    1. Its not the wi-fi its the security of the site they are buying it from. Idiot.

      1. Wrong. Packets can be sniffed easily before they ever leave the local network. If you’re going to buy in a public setting, best to do it via HSPA/EVDO which is much harder to sniff.

    2. I’m definitely not in a position to call anyone an “idiot,” but my understanding is that HTTPS encrypts packets BEFORE they’re sent over the network, so that even if every packet is captured and read the actual data in the packet isn’t disclosed.

      I always use a VPN, and rarely send or receive any important data from a public WiFi network, so I haven’t been too concerned.

      1. The biggest problem arrises from site that don’t use https for user logins, but then turn around and store purchase information in the user’s account profiles. At that point other methods can be used to gain access to the information. It’s utter negligence, but it happens.

  2. whatever happened to the Apple-Starbucks iPhone integration – where you would not only get an automatic connection/authentication to the store’s wifi, but also see a Starbucks icon appear on the home screen, and have a link to purchase the Starbucks music via the iTunes store? Limited appeal, but seams to have been a vaporware announcement.

    And I totally agree with Eideard’s concerns about security. How can a cafe make it’s free wireless secure, cheaply, and easily? Unique VPN’s for each customer, and WP2 encryption via a randomly generated password on your reciept? Maybe you could do something really cool, like have the receipt print a scannable pattern that would work with your devices camera/webcam to authenticate a secure session?

  3. Can I ask an honest question to someone in the cafe/Apple/iPhone/iPod Touch/Macbook crowd?

    What exactly are you doing on your laptop that you can’t do at home on your Wifi connection? I know you can afford Wifi because you plunked down $1800 for a laptop.

    Is it some sort of signaling device used to identify potential mates? I am utterly lost. The only time I ever use a laptop in public is when my wife is hosting a baby shower or something and I am forced to run for the hills.

    Someone please shed some light on this for me.

    1. 1st of all its not only Apple users who use wi-fi at such places. Any idiot knows that. Secondly some people like to sit and have coffee or whatever someone other than home. is that really so hard for you to understand? Really? I don’t spend a lot of time doing it myself but some people like that sort of thing. Secondly when using an iPhone you might do it while waiting in line..The reason these devices are so heavily sued for wi-fi is because it’s easy to do and provides an excellent web surfing experience. Something Microsoft etc. has never managed to do.

      1. @me2:
        Sorry you seem to have taken this so personally. I guess I am not just “any idiot.” I simply asked an honest question because it seems that whenever I look at someone’s screen they’re just doing basic web surfing and not really talking to anyone so I wonder what’s the value add of computing in a caffeinated environment.

        Second, clearly I understand that not ALL cafe computers are Apples, but I’d say that based on market share numbers, Apples are extremely disproportionately represented among coffeehouse computer users.

    2. Well duh! You’ve answered your own question. You have a family. I’d wager that close to 100% of public hotspot users are either 1.) single and 2.) childless, or business travelers. The former have a lot more time on their hands and they enjoy the social interaction they can’t get at home, even if they are only consuming it passively. Others, like myself aren’t so passive. At least half the time that I start computing in public, I end up in a long interesting conversation with someone who has asked me a technical question. Facilitating conservation, either face-to-face or online, has been a traditionally secondary purpose of coffee houses at least since the 1800s. Oh, and I’m a Mac user also. That always attract questions, and usually from the open minded types that I enjoy conserving with.

      Oh, and I am likewise alarmed by the numbers reported here. Identity theft is a real and escalating problem. This article identifies one of the major sources of the problem. I’m even more alarmed by the fact that GigaOm didn’t see fit to mention the security issue in their article. It implies either a level of technical illiteracy or complicity that should be of concern to all of its readers.

    3. autoexec.bat asked, “What exactly are you doing on your laptop that you can’t do at home on your Wifi connection?”

      Getting a change of scenery and being out among people.

      For people who work from home, it can be nice to get out of the home office once in a while. I do most of my serious work in an office or home office setting, but it can be nice to get out from behind my desk and take a “break” to work on some lighter stuff like replying to lower priority emails or (Heaven forfend!) reading some web sites.

      Honest question, honest answer.

  4. Are these numbers for USA only?

  5. autoexec-

    I don’t do it often, but it’s usually for one of two reasons: I’m in an area for client meetings, and I don’t have a real workspace to use. The coffee, wifi and my VPN make it a good way to catch up before, after or between meetings when I don’t feel like negotiating traffic.

    The other time is usually on a weekend morning, when I either need to get something done, or need some creative time. The house has too many distractions, and the change of environment and looming feeling of being a freeloader provide a conducive environment, and some motivation.

    1. @mike:
      This makes sense to me. I am not a creative type other than constructing the occasional webpage in Dreamweaver CS3, which I would never want to use on a laptop, so the creative stimulation of a coffeehouse or other public space makes sense.

  6. I try to work in a different public space every day – not just cafes, but bookstores, libraries, and other public areas, some with wifi and some without. (http://nycvagabond.wordpress.com) At the main branch of the NY Public Library, maybe the best indoor location I’ve yet found, the number of Macbooks is astonishing. It sure is a far cry from what it once was.

    1. @mikej165:
      That’s pretty cool actually. Do you actually try to find WiFi hotspots or do you tether to a 3G network?

      I find that connecting to Wifi (whether by phone, MID or netbook) is always difficult and very slow even when the connection is successful.

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  8. I’m a coffeeshop-surfer and I do it for the company, plain and simple. I’m not gregarious by nature and there’s something about sipping on a cup of coffee and just watching the rain fall that appeals to me. My 2 cents.

  9. This means that cafes could start (or maybe are already doing this) allowing clients to order their drinks etc., from their chairs using the cafe wifi network. Excellent- encourage more laziness and stagnation. The Wall-E Dystopia comes to life…(I’m scared—are you?).

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