Sunday, March 04, 2007

NYT: I want my free wi-fi!

What Starbucks Can Learn From the Movie Palace - New York Times' Randall Stross: "When Starbucks and McDonald’s decided to exact a toll from their customers as they set up their in-store Wi-Fi networks, they created a confusion of conflicting signals: how welcome can one feel when staring at a meter that is running?

The restaurants’ predecessors, the movie theater owners of almost a century ago, understood that not every amenity, every service, every offering must have a separate price tag attached. The owners and the architects sought to give theatergoers an environment that was pleasing in all aspects. Marcus Loew, the head of a nationwide chain, once said, “We sell tickets to theaters, not movies.”

Panera Bread, which has more than 900 Wi-Fi-equipped sandwich and bakery stores, has set itself apart from its contemporaries by upholding the old-fashioned spirit of those bygone theater owners who never stinted in their efforts to make public space inviting."


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