1. Do you agree with the plans by Starbucks to offer time limited free Wi-Fi to customers? Do you think free Wi-Fi would be enough to instill that kind of loyalty? Based on the experiences of the other coffee houses reported above, do you think free access was a critical factor in developing a loyal customer base?
2. Part of the reason for Starbucks's move had to do with increased competition from chains like McDonald's for the morning breakfast crowd. Do you think that free wireless access by such a competitor would have moved a significant portion of Starbucks's customers away? Why or why not?
Public Wi-Fi hot spots have been popular for about eight years. During that time, companies providing the service have been trying to figure out how to monetize it. The dominant model to date has been just to charge for it. Pay us $20 a month and you can log in at any of our many locations. Recently, however, a kind of tipping point has been reached; now, instead of being rented for a fee, Wi-Fi will increasingly be given away to motivate customers to buy other goods and services. Now Wi-Fi is just like the free toaster that banks used to hand out for opening a new account.