Starbucks to Launch A Massive Digital Network

Starbucks is fast becoming a major digital player and it boost with millions of customers. Starting today, Starbucks customers who use the free Wi-fi at more than 6,800 U.S. company-operated stores will be greeted with the Starbucks Digital Network (SDN).  Starbucks announced the launch of its Starbucks Digital Network (SDN), a joint venture with Yahoo  that will offer news, entertainment and lifestyle content for free exclusively in Starbucks stores.

Our beloved local USA Today, The New York Times, Yahoo, SnagFilms, ,, Bookish Reading Club, Apple’s iTunes Store, Foursquare, GOOD, The Weather Channel, and New Word City will be part of the network to provide content.

SDN would offer unfettered access to The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times and USA Today, but that’s just scratching the surface. Starbucks has manufactured a rich experience around each of its six channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business and Careers, My Neighborhood and the customer-personalized Starbucks channel.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each channel:

News: This section of SDN is comprised of Starbucks media partners offering premium or exclusive content to customers. The New York Times has opened up access to its Reader 2.0 subscription-based service for free, all content from the The Wall Street Journal is available minus the paywall and the exact replica of theUSA Today newspaper is accessible to users on the network. Newly signed content partner GOOD is providing early access to its infographics, so Starbucks customers can view them before anyone else.

Entertainment: Starbucks has populated the entertainment portion of its network with music, apps and books from Apple’s iTunes, full access to a selection of books picked by Starbucks and provided by the Bookish Reading Club (via an HTML5 reader), business e-books courtesy of New Word City, a kid-rich experience powered by Nick Jr. Boost and handpicked documentary films provided by SnagFilms.

Wellness: Health and fitness publisher Rodale is the primary content provider for this SDN channel. Customers have access to specialized content — not available to anyone other than Starbucks customers — from Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Prevention, Organic Gardening and Eat This, Not That!, along with a custom built “Map my Ride, Map my Run” application.

Business and Careers: Professional social networking site LinkedIn is making exclusive video and blog content available to Wi-Fi users in this channel. The network also provides LinkedIn job search and suggestions, and offers users a 30-day free trial for the premium account.

My Neighborhood: Starbucks is adamant about creating a localized experience to connect customers with the community around the store. The company delivers on this objective by serving up content to users based on the exact whereabouts of the store where the user is accessing the free Wi-Fi. Community fare includes local news from Patch and a look at nearby classroom projects that could benefit from small contributions. Foursquare users can check in via the web from Starbucks stores, and Zagat makes available full ratings for restaurants in the surrounding area for free.

Starbucks: This channel provides a personalized customer experience for Starbucks account/card management and also amasses all of Starbucks social (Twitter/Facebook/MyStarbucks Idea) and digital properties under one umbrella.
The Starbucks Digital Network launches in all 6,800 company-operated U.S. stores today.

I expect that they will accept ads on their SDN and it’s not cheap. I wonder if their SDN will be available worldwide.

There may be an opportunity with some type of location based service (probably deals/coupons), but I don’t think Starbucks wifi users are going to change their standard web browsing routine. I know I won’t be unless I have a REALLY strong incentive to do so.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @

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