Is Google the New Wi-Fi of Coffee Snobs?
As I waited in line at my packed neighborhood Starbucks where everyone was on either their phone or laptop, I thought, 'man that sucks for AT&T Inc. that Google is taking over its 7,000 stores.'
Starbucks revealed this week that it would replace the free 1.5 Mbit/s Wi-Fi service AT&T has exclusively provided it since 2008 with Google's Level 3-supported Wi-Fi boasting speeds that are 10 times faster. Apparently, the coffee elite require speeds that work as fast as their over-caffeinated brains.
For its part, AT&T says that it wanted to continue to working with Starbucks and that it, too, offered 10- times more speed. I imagine the Starbucks switcheroo came down to a business decision, or perhaps it saw more of a future with Google for online collaborations on the sign-in screen. But I think there's also a sort-of brand cache to Google that meshes well with coffee shop frequenters, whether they're there to work, see and be seen or, typically, both.
People love Google, or just the idea of an open, free Google a lot more than that of a wireless carrier. They clamored for its Fiber deployment, even if it hasn't amounted to anything extraordinary yet, and something tells me they'll love the idea of having in Starbucks as well.
AT&T has been one of the most bullish on Wi-Fi in the U.S., and in my experience at Starbucks, it's service has been reliable enough. It currently has more than 32,000 Wi-Fi hotspots deployed nationwide, as well as more than 25,000 Wi-Fi links outside of Starbucks. Losing the coffee maker's business indoors won't devastate the company, but it doesn't look good either.
Working in the carrier's advantage, however, is the fact that it does still supply Wi-Fi to Chicago's Intelligentsia locations, which any true coffee snob knows is superior to Starbucks anyway...
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading