Google, Amazon fill out top three
For a sixth year in a row, Apple has claimed the top position in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Companies list. The chart is based on a poll of executives. "Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature," Fortune writes. "However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world's best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S."
Availability of reader advances Square and Starbucks partnership
Expanding its partnership with mobile payment service Square, Starbucks announced today that it has commenced sales of Square Mobile Card Readers in its 7,000 US stores. The companies have already partnered to allow Starbucks customers to access the Square Directory while in the stores, and Square processes Starbucks' US credit and debit card transactions. The payment processing hardware and app combo is available for $10, with a $10 rebate for first-time users. Square takes a flat 2.75 percent of transactions processed by the card reader.
Power Matters Alliance gains three new members
AT&T, Google, and Starbucks all announced today that they would be joining the Power Matters Alliance, a consortium of device manufacturers, carriers, and physical establishments committed to the creation of a real-world ecosystem of wireless power. Starbucks will be adding wireless power stations to 17 locations in the Boston area for a limited time in-store trial, while AT&T has begun selling PMA-compatible wireless power cases and charging surfaces in select markets. Google, meanwhile, sees the standard as a means of "doing for power what the Internet did for data."
Starbucks to invest $25 million in Square
Square has agreed a new partnership with Starbucks Coffee, reports say. Beginning this fall, Square will handle the processing of both credit and debit card transactions at all of Starbucks' 7,000 US locations. Starbucks is also planning to integrate Square Directory into its own apps and network, which could potentially expose Pay with Square users to more merchants. At a minimum, Pay with Square will allow people to find a nearby Starbucks through the Directory.
Bissinger hurt by Apple, Amazon no-lower-price war
The insistence on having no lower prices at e-book stores has had a conspicuous if brief casualty, according to an account. Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger shared with the New York Times that he had had his sequel book, After Friday Night Lights, pulled by Amazon after it was chosen by Starbucks as a Pick of the Week and given away through Apple's iBookstore for free through redemption codes. Amazon's automatic price check forced the Kindle price to zero, leaving online publisher Byliner.com no choice but to pull the book if it didn't want Bissinger to lose money and jeopardize the Starbucks deal.
UK Starbucks uses same simple Wi-Fi login as US
British Starbucks coffee houses took a large stride forward in encouraging Internet use Friday with a change in their Free Wi-Fi service. Similar to the US and Canada, drinkers now just have to visit a single sign-in page, here at BT Openzone, to get access to a hotspot. UK visitors previously had to sign up for a Starbucks Rewards card and login with a username and password, both of which discouraged some from signing in.
Books to be limited to extended previews
Apple and Starbucks are expanding the Pick of the Week iTunes promotion to include TV shows and books, the latter company has announced. The coffee brewer has been giving away music download cards for some time, and recently began offering apps. The first non-music offering in the expanded promotion, just made official today, is in fact the Shazam Encore app. Firemint's SPY mouse is slated for next week, and then an unspecified song is scheduled for the week after that.
Starbucks launches iPhone Pick of the Week in apps
Starbucks came full circle with Apple early this week after it started offering free apps to iPhone owners. Somewhat similar to Amazon's Appstore giveaways, the Pick of the Week gives guests a card highlighting the app and giving them a redemption code. Early guests CNET saw were getting the song recognition app Shazam Encore, a title that normally costs $6.
Starbucks mobile payment app now for Android 2.1
Starbucks has now made available its mobile payment app for the Android mobile operating system (free, Android Market). The new age payment method will be accepted at 9,000 Starbucks locations in the US, including 1,000 stores inside Safeway supermarkets by July. Android 2.1 owners can now benefit from the same barcode-scanning payment method as BlackBerry and iPhone or iPod owners enjoyed since January.
Starbucks says Android app writing too diluted
Starbucks' mobile lead KC MacLaren chose an interview Monday to criticize Android development. Although a Starbucks app was coming and wasn't affected by the issues, he saw some developers facing a "watered down experience." Many ended up with a lowest common denominator app where, to serve the most possible devices, they had to cut down on the features they could offer, GeekWire was told.
Foursquare 3.0 and AmEx deal due at SXSW
Foursquare promised a major turnout at the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) with a teaser and one of its first direct partnerships. The company is promising the 3.0 version of its app for Android and iOS users at the Austin gathering, possibly soon as March 11. What 3.0 would entail wasn't mentioned, but iPad support is a candidate, as is more advanced media sharing; 18 new badges are in store regardless of platform.
Starbucks outs iOS, BlackBerry payment apps
Starbucks has expanded its limited trial run of letting users pay for their in-store purchases using an app on their smartphone. The Starbucks Card mobile apps are now available for iOS devices (free, App Store) and certain BlackBerry models for use across the US. A barcode on the screen that's tied to a user's Startbucks Card account can then be scanned at a store location and the funds for the purchase deducted.
Facebook mobile adds location write, deals, more
Facebook during its special mobile event today changed some of the fundamental structure of its mobile platform to bolster third-party apps and add Foursquare-style deals. Android and iPhone apps will now have access to the write and search components of the Places location interface. The update allows apps to not only check into Places themselves but to search and take advantage of the new mobile feature set.
Starbucks tests iOS payments
HyperMac today said that its soon-to-be-extinct external MacBook batteries are compatible with the latest Air models. 60Wh, 100Wh, 150Wh and 222Wh capacities are available, theoretically offering up to six times the capacity of 11-inch Air's built-in battery. The 222Wh battery is said to extend the 11-inch Air's life by roughly 32 hours, whereas the 13-inch computer gains 38 hours. The gear will remain available until November 2nd for $200 (60Wh), $300 (100Wh), $400 (150Wh) and $500 (222Wh). A $150 car charger is also an option.
Partnership will offer premium content for free
Starting Wednesday, US Starbucks customers will get an all-new portal page when they log into the internet, offering news, entertainment and health/lifestyle content licensed from premium content providers, all for free -- but only available in stores.
Starbucks Wi-Fi free through ATT and Bell July 1
Starbucks on the eve of its free Wi-Fi access said the plans would now cover Canadians. The July 1 rollout had originally only been described as covering Americans, but the coffee shop has now reached a deal with Bell Canada for similar access. In either country, the new service is a single-click sign-in and doesn't have the previous two-hour time limit.
Starbucks bringing free Wi-Fi to stores in July
Premium coffee chain Starbucks revealed that it will offer unlimited free Wi-Fi access in its company-operated US locations starting on July 1. Currently, Starbucks offers two free hours per day to registered customers at nearly 6,700 locations. The free access, provided by AT&T, won't require a Starbucks loyalty card.
iPhone Mac Lead Hotspots
Regardless of its actual market share, Apple all but commands use at Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes and coffee shops in the US, according to new data from JiWire. The iPhone and iPod touch combined account for 97.6 percent of all handheld device at these areas, while just over one quarter of notebook users are running Macs. Both give it the largest share for any one company and far eclipse companies like Palm, which had only the fifth largest share of handhelds.
Coffee shops ban laptops
The economic downturn is causing some coffee shops, including Naidre's in Brooklyn, NY, to restrict when users can browse the Internet on their notebooks, says a Thursday WSJ report. The local neighborhood shop offers free Wi-Fi but a sign put up since the spring of 2008 warns that laptops are not allowed at certain mid-day hours unless the customer is eating as well as surfing or otherwise using their notebooks. Shop owners argue they find it hard to cater to a client who takes up the space and uses electricity for hours on end while ordering little to nothing else.
Verizon Free Wi-Fi Leak
Verizon in a new leak believed close to offering free Wi-Fi access of its own. While talks are described as "fluid," the Wall Street Journal says the cellular carrier will echo AT&T's efforts and team up with hotspot provider Boingo to give Wi-Fi service at airports, coffee shops and other locations for those who use Verizon's DSL or FiOS landline connections. It's not yet certain whether this would extend to everywhere Boingo provides service in the US or just locations that are served by Verizon as well.
Dell Notebooks CES 2009
Dell today at a press conference at CES revealed the Inspiron Mini 10 (not yet pictured), its third netbook. While only slightly larger than the Mini 9, the new portable is more advanced than either the smaller model or the Mini 12, including through its display. The namesake 10-inch screen is sharper than on other netbooks and produces a 720p (1280x720) resolution closer to full-size notebooks. The system also incorporates a multi-touch trackpad that not only helps with scrolling and zooming but also the ability to jump to a home screen or automatically scroll the contents of a page.
AT&T Wraps Wayport Deal
AT&T on Friday said it has successfully closed its buyout out Wayport. The deal hands over control of Wayport's Wi-Fi hotspots and gives AT&T about 20,000 access points within the US and a total of 80,000 worldwide. No mention has been made as to if and when Wayport will switch to using AT&T's official Wi-Fi system and how soon users of either service will have a common billing system.
Starbucks iPhone Wi-Fi
AT&T has finally resumed its free Wi-Fi service for iPhone owners visiting Starbucks Coffee shops, according to an announcement. American iPhone owners are said to be receiving text messages, informing them of the expansion of hotspot service to include Starbucks; other locations include places such as airports, hotels and restaurants. Gaining access requires picking the "attwifi" network, entering a phone number, and waiting for a text message with a 24-hour link.
AT&T iPhone Wi-Fi a go
(Updated with AT&T denial) AT&T has, after some delay, officially reintroduced a free Wi-Fi plan for iPhone owners. The carrier has changed its policy on the service several times, announcing it and then retracting it; the company now confirms, though, that people should be able to access free Wi-Fi from an iPhone at over 17,000 hotspots, among them more than 8,000 restaurants, many of which should be Starbucks Coffee locations.
Starbucks dropping music
Starbucks Coffee will drop most of its music efforts by September, reports say. Indications are said to point to the company doing away with its full-sized CD racks, reducing selection to just four "slots" per store. Critically for Apple, it is believed the company will also drop all iTunes promotions, including gift cards and any special track offers. The one remaining Apple connection will be free Internet access for the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store.
ATT and T-Mo Wi-Fi Truce
AT&T and Starbucks today said they have struck an agreement with T-Mobile that puts an end to a short-lived lawsuit by the latter over Starbucks' Wi-Fi service. The three parties have come to a "memorandum of understanding" that will both halt the case as well as continue wireless access at US coffee shops. Terms for the deal remain private and don't reveal any change in the pace of the transition from T-Mobile to AT&T for Starbucks Wi-Fi, which began in April after an announcement in February that AT&T had won the rights to handle Starbucks' Internet service.
Starbucks free Wi-Fi
Yesterday's report of specialty coffee chain Starbucks offering free-of-charge Wi-Fi access to customers has been made official, the company confirms through its sign-up page posted today. The deal offers two hours of uninterrupted access each day to Starbucks Card owners who use or top up their cards at least once a month, encouraging them to make regular visits to Starbucks that the company hopes will translate to increased coffee sales.
Starbucks Cardholder Wi-Fi
Starbucks will launch some of its first universal free Wi-Fi starting from tomorrow, according to a conversation held by former Sling Media official Dave Zatz as well as a company page. Stores from June 3rd onward will give two hours of free Wi-Fi access per day to any Starbucks Card owner who uses the card for other store purchases at least once a month. Unlike efforts that limit access to PC data cards or Apple's iTunes-only usage, the free link will be available to any 802.11 device, the coffee merchant says.
ATT PC Cards Free Wi-Fi
AT&T on Tuesday announced that it would provide free Wi-Fi to all users of its LaptopConnect service. The plan lets owners go online at any of 17,000 hotspots, including almost 7,000 Starbucks locations. Those who install AT&T's connection software for compatible cellular data cards also get an intelligent hotspot finder, the carrier says: the manager will automatically recognize any AT&T-backed Wi-Fi points and give users the option of switching to cut down on their cell network transfers.
ATT iPhone Wifi hiatus
AT&T on Thursday had scheduled its iPhone WiFi service to commence, but pulled the plug at the last minute, with little explanation as to why. CrunchGear reports that a notice went out from AT&T officials, describing that the planned launch was cancelled, and that the project is currently on an indefinite hiatus. The publication theorizes that the announcement was an effort on AT&T's part to offer original iPhone owners speedier internet connectivity, in light of the upcoming 3G version.
AT&T and Starbucks have announced that they are finally beginning to deploy their joint Wi-Fi service, which lets existing AT&T customers go online from a cafe for free. To qualify, users must have one of AT&T's home or small business broadband packages, or a U-verse IPTV subscription; starting on May 1st, these people will need only login to "ATTWiFI" inside a Starbucks outlet. Some 7,000 locations should have Wi-Fi in May, though customers may already be able to login from San Antonio.
Pick of the Week promo
Apple and Starbucks on Tuesday announced a new collaboration, dubbed Pick of the Week. The program offers Starbucks customers free music and music videos, downloadable from the iTunes Store. According to the companies, the content will be available through Pick of the Week download cards, provided at more than 7,000 Starbucks locations in the United States. The cards will be good for 60 days from the date a song is named "Pick of the Week," and allow customers to get a complimentary (though pre-selected) song or music video.
Starbucks ATT Free Wi-Fi
Starbucks today said it would begin offering free Wi-Fi access to AT&T subscribers as well as free two hours of Wi-Fi to those who make purchases at the world's largest coffee chain. The move marks a break from Starbucks' longstanding choice of T-Mobile and will see all of Starbucks' 7,000-plus existing Internet-capable coffee houses switch to AT&T for access. All customers of AT&T's DSL and U-verse Internet services will have free, unlimited access to the hotspots. AT&T's cellphone customers will also have the option in the near future, the coffee producers say. Starbucks Card holders will also have two hours of use per day on top of their existing benefits.