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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iPad Kerfuffle

Apple announced this morning that it sold more than 300,000 iPads on opening day. The comprehensive number includes pre-order pickups, deliveries to channel partners and walk-in sales at Apple Stores. Additionally, customers went home and downloaded more than 1,000,000 apps (oh, it’s on) and 250,000 ebooks.
The underlying problems, things like the lack of multitasking, expandability, the anemic iBookstore selection–all that stuff has been covered in the initial reviews. It’s something else entirely to actually have an Apple iPad in your hands, playing with it–you’ll discover quirks that only come from use, and the Internet community has been very vocal about them.
Here are some examples of the ways our Most Innovative Companies are taking advantage of Apple’s new tablet.
Even though the iPad looks like an iPhone built for the supersize inhabitants of Pandora, its ambitions are as much about shrinking our laptops as about stretching our smartphones. Yes, the iPad is designed for reading, gaming, and media consumption. But it also represents an ambitious rethinking of how we use computers. No more files and folders, physical keyboards and mouses. Instead, the iPad offers a streamlined yet powerful intuitive experience that’s psychically in tune with our mobile, attention-challenged, super-connected new century. Instant-on power. Lightning-fast multitouch response. Native applications downloaded from a single source that simplifies purchases, organizes updates, and ensures security. Apple has even developed a custom chip, the A4, that both powers the machine and helps extend its battery life to 10 hours. The iPad’s price puts it in the zone of high-end netbooks: $500 for a basic 16-gig, Wi-Fi-only model.
Before the iPad was launched, most of the information we had about the device was provided by Apple and a few trusted partners. With it now in stores, consumers and business can see for themselves what there is to like about it – and what is missing. For the most part, marketers’ business case for the iPad – eventual large scale adoption because of the Apple name, the promise of iPad apps etc – appears to hold true, according to the numerous reviews that ran this weekend. That said, there are some missing features and functionality with the iPad that should give marketers pause.
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Beyond The Browser: AR, Mobile WiFi

Is AR the Next Big Thing?
Augmented reality, heretofore seen only in science-fiction films or computer labs, might soon become the latest Web 2.0 tool for marketers. AR, which uses webcam technology to blend footage from the real and virtual worlds, is being tested by Zugara to allow users to “try on” clothes without being in a store.

augmented reality

As gaming systems become increasingly integrated with the physicality of the gamer, developers are seizing upon the intricacies of our actual environments for new ways of having fun on-screen. Aspyr’s Treasure World for Nintendo’s DS and DSi handhelds is one such attempt to bridge the gap between the real and the pixelated, launching players on a virtual treasure hunt that requires exploring one’s surroundings for actual wireless networks. Real-life WiFi spots are converted into in-game “treasure,” which can be traded in for items.
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