Will McDonalds force Starbucks to offer free wireless?

by James

Starbucks vs. McDonalds

That’s Computer World’s prediction, anyway. The popular PC magazine states that the pay for wireless hotspot plan is stale and saving marketing departments competing for your money will offer wireless for free to get you in to buy their products. The longer you stay, the more you buy. McDonalds is known to offer such an inticement, and now it may look like Starbucks will … or should as well.

The prediction comes on the heals of Starbucks/Apple’s iTunes wireless store which allows users to download music they hear streaming in the any one of the 13,000 plus coffee houses. While users have to pay for the music download, the wireless access is free. So why not extend that with other revenue streams as well?

But the real issue is competition with McDonalds. The Golden Arches has recently added high quality coffee to it’s menu (that’s been rated better that Starbucks, mind you), and at least in Great Britain, the wireless connectivity is free. So why not come for the coffee and free wireless and stay for the Big Mac? Starbucks has answered the call by expanding their breakfast menu with egg sandwiches that look very McMuffin like.

In the end, it makes sense. During the depression, movie theaters had “dish night,” which they gave away free dishes with the purchase of a movie ticket. People build up entire place settings by going to the movies. When I was in college, it wasn’t uncommon to go into an all night diner for coffee and conversation, and leave after eating breakfast in the morning.

Whatever it takes to get em in the doors, that’s what Starbucks should be doing. And free bandwidth is a great way to entice them. Especially the caffeine addicted.

6 reviews or comments

Henning Says: October 16, 2007 at 8:34 am

Here in Chile it is just vice-versa: Starbuckets has free and McDoof has paid WiFi….
Anyhow, I like more to spill my black coffe over the keyboard than drop some french fries with Ketchup and Mayonaise over the gadgets… ;o)


jeremysark Says: October 16, 2007 at 8:36 am

My favorite coffee shop has free wifi. I go in and buy the most expensive cup of coffee and sit in there all day. to bad for them they give free refills.

cromag9 Says: October 16, 2007 at 1:38 pm

problem with this (in the U.S. at least) is two fold:
Mcdonald’s interiors are inherently uncomfortable with the fiberglass benches as flourescent lighting, this limits the time anyone will spend in there no mater how free the wi-fi is.
Starbucks are pleasant on the other hand, with some even having sofas and armchairs, this is gonna lead to students ditching the library to take up space in Starbucks all day.
Also, I would tend to think people too cheap to buy a monthly wi-fi plan are not very likely to spend $3.50 on a cup of coffee, when they can get a whole meal at mcd’s for the same price.

jasonweaver Says: October 16, 2007 at 5:22 pm

At least in the US, Starbucks WiFi is provided by TMobile. Starbucks gets a commission payment on anyone who pays TMobile to access the service, so unless TMobile wants to take a hit, Starbucks doesn’t have much room to control their WiFi pricing. You can see in their new store layouts and their new coffees that McDonald’s is very interested in you hanging out there, instead of Starbucks.

phil Says: December 19, 2007 at 2:02 am

which mcdonalds offers free wifi — all the ones I know, they charge. did mcdonalds adopt a new policy?

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