Starbucks (s sbux) wants to give customers more than just free internet access. Through a new partnership with Apple (s aapl) and Yahoo (s yhoo), the Seattle-based coffee chain will provide customers with free content to enjoy via their Wi-Fi connection.
Among the offerings available to Starbucks customers will be music, movies and even e-books. The move is designed to draw more people in, and to provide a competitive advantage for Starbucks over low-cost competitors like McDonalds (s mcd). In addition to free content, customers will also be able to purchase additional tracks, movies and books through the Starbucks launch page, a portion of the profits from which will go back to the chain.
The decision by Starbucks to offer free Wi-Fi to all customers, made in June of this year, has led to a tremendous uptick in usage. Over 30 million users accessed the web from a Starbucks store last month alone. It was a smart move by the chain, since it provided impressive numbers to shop around to content providers. No doubt the size of the potential new audience is what attracted Yahoo and Apple to the deal.
Free content will be displayed for customers via a welcome screen when they sign in to the Starbucks online portal to get Wi-Fi access. That content will also be available exclusively to Starbucks users, which is what the chain is hoping will encourage more people to walk through its doors.
Apple will be providing free music from iTunes. Its free Starbucks track of the week song directly for download using the chain’s Wi-Fi, instead of requiring users to input a code taken from a card. Other free downloads are mentioned, but no additional details are available as yet.
Other partners include The New York Times (s nyt), The Wall Street Journal (s nwsa) and HarperCollins. Users browsing with Starbucks Wi-Fi will be able to read books and newspapers for free while in-store, but will have to purchase content to take it with them elsewhere. The service is designed around the idea that customers at coffee shops are compulsive browsers, making it the ideal setting for providing free samples. It’s also a natural progression of the idea of keeping newspapers available for patrons to peruse.
I think this is a partnership that will benefit everyone, including customers. It launches today, so if you happen to check your local Starbucks to see what’s on offer, let us know what you find.
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