Starbucks Digital Network: Plan to attract more coffee lovers?

20 10 2010

Ever get fidgety during that now slightly longer wait for the double-skinny half-caf latte you just ordered? Ever find yourself reaching for your cellphone, hoping you’ll find something online to distract you? Ever find yourself surfing the Web, looking for something more interesting to read that the latest company memo? Starbucks has noticed. And now, the company that has long curated our tastes in music (perhaps you picked up the James Brown Soul Brother Number 1 CD at a Starbucks store?), books (Mitch Albom’s For One More Day), and DVDs (Akeelah and the Bee) is taking a shot at curating our online lives as well.

The Starbucks Digital Network, which launches Wednesday, is a content site accessible only via the Wi-Fi network, now free, in all Starbucks stores. Produced by the coffee shop in partnership with Yahoo!, the network serves up a slew of content—some of it available elsewhere, some of it exclusive to the network—which customers can peruse while in the company’s coffee shops. Among the offerings: free access to the New York Times Reader 2.0, WSJ.com, and the USA Today eEdition; a clip from the new documentary Waiting for Superman by An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim; an excerpt from the upcoming novel Rescue by bestselling author Anita Shreeve; free access to Nick Jr. Boost’s educational content for kids; and exclusive video of job-seeking tips from LinkedIn’s Lindsey Pollak.

The network also includes content from Patch, Zagat, the Weather Channel, and classroom-project fundraising site DonorsChoose.org, localized based on which store you’re in. And there are cross-promotions: For example, users who buy a ticket to Waiting for Superman get a $15 credit to spend on DonorsChoose.org.

Starbucks figures the network will give you one more reason to choose them over a competing coffee shop. After all, why would you go to the guy next door when you can come to Starbucks and get a free download from iTunes? As for the content providers—who are dishing up their wares for free to Starbucks—it’s a great way to get in front of an audience who, if you can judge from sales of Starbucks-selected CDs, books, and DVDs, are eager to discover the next great thing on the culture front.

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