The Starbucks Digital Network (SDN) has been officially launched, a new content network that will give customers Internet access to different online search portals. The service is a free, ad-supported service and offers smartphone and portable electronics owners the chance to stay at Starbucks and suck down overly-priced drinks with odd-sounding names.
Starbucks has launched News, Entertainment, Business and Careers, My Neighborhood and Wellness channels, along with a customized Starbucks channel for each customer. Content partners include USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times for the news section, while iTunes, Nick Jr., Yahoo Finance, Foursquare, and other services round out the offerings.
“Between October 20 through October 27, we’re offering special content you’ll only find on the Starbucks Digital Network including exclusive free tracks from Fistful of Mercy featuring Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison courtesy of iTunes, the opportunity to donate $15 to a local school through DonorsChoose.org and a first look at a bestselling author Anita Shreve’s new novel that doesn’t hit shelves until November 30,” said Adam Brotman, Starbucks Digital Ventures VP, in a blog post.
Starbucks has teamed up with Yahoo as the struggling search engine company looks for new methods to persevere. Moving into a new market segment that has been relatively closed off to a national audience for free could be a significant victory for Yahoo.
Prior to the free Wi-Fi, only Apple customers with Wi-Fi products could access the Internet for free at Starbucks locations. This new open door policy is a refreshing change from a store that traditionally charged non-Apple customers for Internet use. In the long run, it seems most likely that custom apps could be made available specifically for the Starbucks stores, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Starbucks only recently began to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access in its 6,7000 retail stores in the US, a drastic change over the pay-model it used before. The response was likely designed to help combat McDonald’s and other locations now offering free Wi-Fi access.
Now that the Wi-Fi at Starbucks is free, I can definitely see their stores becoming more popular hangout and work locations for digital road warriors.