Starbucks Coffee Co. and Microsoft Corp. said in a statement that they plan to offer customers a wireless Internet café experience by late spring.
Starbucks customers will be able to access services on their laptops, pocket PCs, phones and hand-held devices thanks to partnerships with Microsoft and wireless broadband Internet service provider MobileStar Network Corp.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not released.
MobileStar subscribers, primarily business travelers, currently can boot up, download, check their e-mail and access their corporate intranets only through location-specific services. Site partners include American Airlines Admirals Clubs and nearly 20 hotel chains, including Hilton and Ramada.
“We're creating the virtual office,” said Pamela S. Roberts, vice president of marketing at MobileStar. “People are mobile these days.”
By adding Starbucks to its client roster, MobileStar will be providing wireless broadband in a retail setting. Content and services will come from the Microsoft Network.
Roberts cited the “completely unplugged” nature of the service as a major benefit to customers, as well as the speedy wireless dial-up connection.
Darren Huston, senior vice president of new ventures at Starbucks, said, “A focus on continually improving store operations and enhancing our customers' experience underlies our success as a retailer. These agreements enable us to take a big step toward both goals at the same time.”