Starbucks Free WiFi (Finally) Just as Broadband Demand Slows

Starbucks is not just offering its customers free wi-fi on the hazy notion that if they spend more time surfing the Web they will drink more coffee. No, the ubiquitous coffee shop retailer has plans to debut the second piece to its digital strategy this fall, which offers a more clear monetization path for it and its partners. Called the Digital Network, Starbucks intends to offer exclusive and premium content from such providers as Apple, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and health publisher Rodale.

Broadband Adoption Generally Slows
After several consecutive years of modest but consistent growth, broadband adoption slowed dramatically in 2010, according to [pdf] the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Two-thirds of American adults (66%) currently use a high-speed internet connection at home, a figure that is not statistically different from what the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found at a similar point in 2009, when 63% of Americans were broadband adopters.

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POS: Mobile, Cameras

The new POS: Mobile
It’s the ad served while you are reading the news in the morning on an e-reader that knows you’re at home and three blocks from a Starbucks. It’s a loyalty program on your phone that, through a hotel-room sensor, sets the lights and thermostat and turns the TV to CNN when you walk in the door. It’s finding a restaurant in a strange city on a Tuesday night, discovering that a store nearby stocks the TV you’re looking for, or that a certain grocery on the way home has the cut of meat you need.  Forget Foursquare or Gowalla: Soon every website and service will be able to tell where you are, opening up the floodgates for location-based marketing and blurring the budget lines for advertisers. “What used to be called point-of-purchase is now called mobile advertising,” said Kip Cassino, VP-research at Borrell Associates. “Mobile can be an extension of a retailer’s storefront.”
There is a growing number stores deploying video cameras, motion detectors and other sensors – some hidden, some overt – but all doing more than merely monitoring aisles for shoppers. Increasingly, whether customers realize it or not, and often they don’t, this technology is being used to study consumers for behavior, shopping and product preferences and other insights that will lead to more marketing opportunities and increase sales, according to the New York Times.
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Tablets: Apple, Microsoft

The excitement in the tech world about Apple‘s rumored iTablet (iPad?) is getting close to fever pitch, culminating with an article in The New York Times today. But all the evidence suggests that the seeds of the iTablet were planted decades ago–so we’ve made a timeline for you. A real Apple junkie would connect the rumors of the upcoming device all the way back to a conceptual movie made in 1987, during the reign of John Sculley. Yet apart from the failed–if amazingly visionary–Apple Newton Message Pad, Apple’s activity has only kicked into overdrive fairly recently.
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Rumors abound regarding Microsoft‘s “Project Pink” Zune smartphone, but the device since disappeared from the news. It’s back again, matched with exciting rumors of an MS Tablet PC.
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Identity Crisis In British Design?

An Identity Crisis In British Design?
Is British design in the midst of an identity crisis? In a piece for the New York Times, Alice Rawsthorne wonders why so many British design icons have lost some of the impact and relevance their predecessors possessed, and ponders the challenges of capturing a nation’s identity and psyche in design, when that identity is increasingly complex.

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Print Deathwatch: Magazines, Newspapers

Its farewell to magazines that quit print under pressure from recession and digital media. Some brands continue online, but many do not.
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eMarketer Sounds Death Knell for Newspapers
US newspaper ad revenues are expected to drop 42.5% in the next seven years, signaling a death spiral for the medium as readership moves online and to more real-time, interactive venues, according to a report from eMarketer. In its report, “Newspapers in Crisis: Migrating Online,” the research firm estimates that newspaper advertising revenues dropped 16.4% to $37.9 billion in 2008 and expects that by 2012, those revenues will tumble to $28.4 billion – slightly more than one-half the industry’s revenue peak of $49.4 billion in 2005.

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Newspapers: LA Times, New York Times

A year and a half ago, Jason Oberfest, who was then the head of Product Strategy and Business Development at the LA Times, told an audience at PSFK Conference Los Angeles about the major changes that the paper was making to address changes in publishing in order to become a leader in the new media space. It looks like those changes have taken effect: the editor of the Los Angeles Times, Russ Stanton, has announced that the paper’s online advertising revenue is now sufficient to cover the cost of the LA Times’s editorial team – for both print and online.
LA Times

Could the New York Times go under?
It seems the unthinkable, but some media commentators are speculating whether The New York Times could go under. A piece in the Observer yesterday put the spotlight on the Grey Lady, which is saddled with debts, a hugely expensive news operation and the cost of an expensive new building on Manhattan‘s 42nd Street. All of that would be a strain at the best of times, but as the US newspaper industry buckles under the enormous strain of the downturn these problems are all hugely exacerbated.

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Dead Tree Media v Mistletoe Media

I have no particular beef with or antipathy towards the print medium, quite the reverse. That said, the news from the world of print this week is grim …

The New York Times is “Mourning Old Media’s Decline”, Gannett is to cut 10% of workers as its profit slips, the Christian Science Paper is to end its daily print edition, Time Inc. plans about 600 layoffs and Newspaper circulation continues to decline rapidly


The other big news is that Google will pay $125 million to settle two lawsuits with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over its book-scanning and searching scheme. Google scanned entire books under copyright, and made the contents searchable. Google argued that this practice was permissible as a “fair use” of copyrighted material, because searchers could only access a portion of a given work. Google plans to use $34.5 million of the settlement to create a copyright registry modeled after similar music industry systems used to compensate songwriters and performers.

The healthy and burgeoning electronic/interactive/social media essentially live in a parasitic relationship to the so-called dead tree media, feeding off their labor and research/production costs. (Would Mistletoe be a good metaphor?)

The automotive and other industries are also built on a pricing that doesn’t include the social, health and environmental costs of the pollution and carbon any given car generates. Ideally, the pollution cost should be part of the cost of each vehicle.

So, ideally (I guess), should the dead tree media labor and research costs be part of the real cost of each electronic widget… Thoughts?

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