This weekend news broke that the existing security laws in Finland making it a crime to leave your Wi-Fi signal open and unencrypted might be on their way out.

Not being from Finland or an expert in their legal goings-on, my reaction was predictable: That’s ILLEGAL There ?!?!?

Yesterday, Starbucks announced that their semi-free Wi-Fi is about to become completely free. My first reaction was “it’s about time”. McDonalds figured this out last year, and others have known that the extra business gained by encouraging people to stay at your store is a no-brainer for quite some time. Sure, the Wi-Fi at Panera Bread is unreliable, but at least they have the good sense to offer it.

And then Starbucks upped the ante.

Soon, when you stop by everyone’s favorite coffee shop and use their Internet connection, you’ll get a bonus with your burnt cup o’ Joe: free access to paid sites, including The Wall Street Journal.

This is huge.

It’s huge business change for WSJ, which up until now was “pay only”. It pretty much ends anyone’s chance of charging for Wi-Fi. And biggest of all, it signals a clear adoption of the idea of coopetition.

I’ve been telling you that in the new business world there are only partners; nobody’s a pure competitor any more. Coopetition is the word for that, and Starbucks, the Wall Street Journal, and the other companies that are jumping on this bandwagon are bearing it out.

Of course, unless it’s legal in Finland, none of this will matter, right? <wink>

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