Power to the People

According to an article in today’s New York Times titled “Aiming at Rivals, Starbucks Will Offer Free Wi-Fi,” the ubiquitous coffee chain will finally do the right thing and serve up complimentary hotspots with its hot coffee starting July the 1st. Apparently the move is an effort to reach the newly unemployed and mobile clientele who were heading to the local library or other neighborhood hotspots for their daily fix.

As I blogged about in my 07/30/09 posting titled “Join the Revolution,” Starbucks has offered a couple free hours with an active customer card for the last year or so but it is high time it joined the likes of Panera Bread, Barnes & Noble and even McDonald’s in offering unlimited online access.

Through a partnership with Yahoo, Starbucks is offering patrons free online articles, music, videos and other content, including free access to paid Web sites like those of The Wall Street Journal and Zagat and free iTunes downloads. And perhaps best of all, patrons will no longer need to endure the cumbersome log-in process that Starbucks used to require.

Personally, I am thrilled about the announcement since I’ve had my share of frustrating log-on experiences at various Starbucks, particularly during a holiday visit to New York City, where I never was able to get online at any of the several Starbucks we frequented. As I’ve grown fond of saying, “power to the people!”