When It’s Best To Give Stuff Away
Finally someone gets it! I’m talking about Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has been [is] one of the holy grails of computing. Essentially it is wireless internet access. You go to your local cafe fire up you laptop and you’re listening to your favorite internet radio and surfing the web while you sip your $4 coffee.
Wi-Fi, has not quite panned out. Why, does something as amazing as Wi-Fi practically died? Because, almost no-one understands that there are things that you can charge money for and things that you have to give away as a bonus. Most every one, including Starbucks, thought that they could make a bucket of cash from Wi-Fi. Starbucks has had to slash the price of its Wi-Fi service and still I doubt it is doing very well at all.
People won’t pay for it. It is just a nice to have while at the cafe, but it doesn’t offer any real value. I can go home and check my email for free, so why would I cough up 5 dollars for an hour of internet time? If I was something other than a complete marketing ignoramus I’d be able to tell you why this is, but sorry I don’t know. What I do know is that as a full-on internet addict, the only time I ever paid for public internet or Wi-Fi was once in an airport when I was desperate to check my mail. And I never will pay for it again.
Then last week it happened.
Last week, while at my local cafe [I don't always go to Starbucks] I was shocked to see the sign: Free Wireless Internet! Yeaah! They get it. Do you think I’ll come here more often and buy more $4 coffees and snacks now that they have free internet? Of course.
The funny thing is that it costs next to nothing to provide Wi-Fi. For about $70 bucks of hardware and an hour or two of any geeky 16 year-olds time and you’re in wired.
Most online businesses do get this concept. They understand that you need to give stuff away in order to build a relationship and trust with your customers that will pay off down the road. It really surprises me that it took so long for someone to understand the real business potential of Wi-Fi. Now if only I can get the manager of my favorite Starbucks to read this story.