Schultz’s talk included how the company sought to embrace social and digital media and continues to look for new ways to bridge the third place coffeehouse experience with the digital world. As part of this commitment, Schultz recognized customers’ desire for a better in store Wi-Fi experience and announced that on July 1, Starbucks will turn on one-click, free Wi-Fi through AT&T in all U.S. company-operated stores in 6,700 locations.
MacDailyNews Note: Starbucks currently offers two free hours of Web access per day to registered customers, after which customers who want more time are charged US$3.99 for two additional hours.
Building on the new free Wi-Fi policy, Schultz also revealed plans for a new online customer experience called the Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo!, which will debut later this fall. This online experience – available only in U.S. company operated Starbucks stores – will be unique in its content offerings, allowing customers free unrestricted access to various paid sites and services such as wsj.com, exclusive content and previews, free downloads, local community news and activities, on their laptops, tablets or smart phones.
Driven by Digital Ventures, a new business unit within Starbucks led by CIO and General Manager, Digital Ventures, Stephen Gillett, 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. Launch content providers will include, among others, Apple iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and ZAGAT.