I guess Starbucks finally figured out that their expensive cups of coffee could afford to cover the cost of WiFi in their stores, and now is offering it to their customers for free. It’s about time they joined the party. Barnes and Noble have been offering free WiFi (powered by AT&T) since early last summer, and Borders followed suit in October. BreadCo (called Panera Bread in some cities) has always had free WiFi. Even McDonald’s has free WiFi. Starbucks is coming rather late to the game at this point.
When traveling, I count on free WiFi to get me online. And even in my own city, between appointments or when killing time at the mall waiting for my teenagers, free WiFi keeps me sane. Most of the bigger malls in my area have free WiFi at several stores within the mall, and two of the malls have attached big-box book stores with free WiFi (in our case, Barnes and Noble). I pretty much know where I can go to find free WiFi in my area, and being able to add Starbucks to the mix gives me even more options.
Now I’m just waiting for major hotel chains to start giving their WiFi for free in guest rooms, not just in their noisy, cramped, and inconvenient lobbies. I don’t go to a hotel expecting to pay a surcharge for using the electricity or water in my room, why should I have to pay a surcharge for WiFi? Smaller hotels and motels offer WiFi or wired Internet in their rooms for free; you can’t tell me that higher end hotels cannot do the same thing. They are already making a considerable amount of money from business travelers, there’s no sense in gouging us for WiFi.
Now, if we can just do something about that awful music they play at Starbucks. What is that stuff, anyway? One of my friends calls it “Vomit Jazz.”