An article in the New York Times today calls HotSpots the new Cold Spots of the Internet Age. However, many of the better and more widespread HotSpots you have to pay for.
…..In the 1920s, when air-conditioning began to be installed in movie theaters, owners had to spend a sizable sum — $50,000 (roughly equivalent to $570,000 today) — to transform the property into a ‘cold spot.’ But it was worth it. Before the ‘refrigeratory process’ came along, theaters could not draw customers during the summer because of the unbearable heat in confined space. With air-conditioning, patronage increased so sharply that even the largest investments were quickly repaid.
The problem..too, having to pay for everything ala carte might actually end up backfiring down the line.
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?
Before you pop open your laptop, however, you need to pull out your credit card. Starbucks and its partner, T-Mobile, charge $6 an hour for the ‘pay as you go’ plan. Day passes or monthly subscriptions are available but can be used only at Starbucks stores and other T-Mobile partners like Borders bookstores.
And now it’s getting worse – some places are now charging for POWER…that’s right – electricity!
Today, the outer frontier of pricing innovation can be found at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where some electrical outlets are accompanied by a small sign: ‘To Activate Pay $2 at Kiosk.’ This is an experimental service, ‘Power Up My Portable,’ which provides chairs and outlets for laptops; $2 buys 20 minutes of juice.
However, there are some businesses that are flying in the opposite direction:
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.
I think the idea is .. if the WiFi is free, people will stay longer which means, at the end, they’ll consume more.