Saturday, October 13, 2007

Free Wi-Fi coming to a location near you

An article by Mike Elgan of Computer World predicts:

Starbucks will start rolling out free Wi-Fi access within one year.

He makes the point that people with the newer Wi-Fi devices will demand such services, and that McDonalds is already moving to rollout free Wi-Fi in all its locations in the UK.

I think his prediction is right on the money. Once I got my iPod Touch I completely changed my morning coffee routine to shops offering free Wi-Fi. Starbucks is going to have to go free if they're going to compete. I know of at least one customer they've lost already.

UPDATE: I realized a couple of other things. I've also altered where I eat lunch. The second reason free is important is that the authentication piece on small devices is a pain. We just want to turn them on and join a network. One reason why I don't care for the free Wi-Fi at Panera Bread.


Anonymous said...

Pondering the meaning of addiction and which of yours is worse -- coffee or Internet? Actually I am really glad you pointed this out because I am not a coffee drinker so would not have even considered that people would alter where they stop based on free wifi access but it is a really good point.

Kevin Gamble said...

Well, I've given up coffee before, but never the Internet. What would be the point? :)

I got thinking about this and realized that I've also started to alter where I eat lunch. I've also found myself pulling out the Touch almost everywhere to see what they have available. If they have no free Wi-FI I haven't been going back (as often).

Kind of sad, but my reality.

Anonymous said...

i agree that free wifi is great but any company that offers it without users agreeing to some sort of terms (via the painful login type thing that panera, for example, has) is setting themselves up for legal trouble. it would be nice though, if you could login once and it would remember your MAC addr so it just worked from then on - or for at least a year or somesuch.

Kevin Gamble said...

I wonder what their liability would be? That's a good question. I think I'll look into that a bit.

Thank you for your comment.