Starbucks to start offering free Wi-Fi and exclusive content

In an initiative to get more customers into their stores, Starbucks announced yesterday, at the Wired Disruptive by Design conference, that they are going to start offering free Wi-Fi, powered by AT&T, starting July 1.

"Free Wi-Fi is in my mind just the price of admission — we want to create … new sources of content that you can only get at Starbucks,” chairman and president and CEO Howard Schulz told the Wired Business Conference. “This is a thing that doesn’t exist in any other consumer marketplace in America."

Along with the free Wi-Fi Starbucks will also be offering new and exclusive content. The new content will be offered through the Starbucks Digital Network a products of the new business unit within Starbucks called Digital Ventures led by Starbucks CIO Stephen Gillett. The Starbucks Digital Network will offer free access to various paid sites, exclusive content as well as local community news and activities.

"The Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo! opens up a uniquely valuable customer experience, while at the same time appeals to leading online content providers and provides a new channel for customer engagement." Some of the content available when the product launches later this fall will come from: iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and ZAGAT.

To use the network and access the content you will be required to create a unique identifier which will most likely lead to targeted advertising to help cover the costs of the project.

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