Home Starbucks Launches Digital Network, Exclusive Content with Your Free WiFi (and Oh Yeah, Coffee)

Starbucks Launches Digital Network, Exclusive Content with Your Free WiFi (and Oh Yeah, Coffee)

Starbucks announces the launch of the Starbucks Digital Network today. Powered by the free Starbucks WiFi, the digital network offers exclusive content to its in-store customers. Built in HTML5, the content is designed to work on all mobile devices – from notebooks to smartphones.

The network’s content includes news, entertainment, business, and health channels, as well as local neighborhood information. Content providers for the network include Bookish Reading Club, Foursquare, GOOD, LinkedIn, New Word City, and The Weather Channel. And you’ll be able to get access to special content from The New York Times, iTunes, and WSJ.com, the latter of which normally sits behind a paywall.

Lots of Content for While You Caffeinate

If it sounds like a lot of content, well, it is. And it demonstrates that Starbucks’ decision to offer free WiFi for its customers this summer wasn’t simply about getting customers to stick around the cafes just long enough for the barista to make your Americano. As the company announcement today reads: “Whether customers have a few minutes or an hour, the Starbucks Digital Network offering is designed with snackable content in mind, so it’s easy to explore the six channels and discover the most relevant news and information.”

Coffee (Plus WiFi) and the Next Age of Enlightenment?

As someone who travels a lot, I require a couple of things: power, Internet, and coffee. And having faced the cold-hard stares of many a barista when I pull out my notebook to work, I appreciate the fact that Starbucks welcomes me there. I’m not sure I’m the target customer for the Career Coach or Runners World content (there’s a tech blogger joke in there somewhere), but the ability to check in via Foursquare when I log into the portal is perfect.

Historians have long seen coffeehouses as playing a major role in the development of the Enlightenment – apparently, when Europeans made the switch from ale to coffee, their ability to generate Big Ideas improved. I’m not sure what role future historians will say that Starbucks’ coffee plus free WiFi played on the development of big ideas. But as that’s where many folks find ourselves working, you never know.

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