Forget coffee, Starbucks is a tech company
People think Starbucks is a coffee company. But every restaurant sells coffee. What makes Starbucks unique is technology.
Computerworld - Apple. Google. Amazon. Starbucks?
We taxonomize businesses. Ford is a car company. Exxon Mobil is an oil and gas company. And Microsoft is a technology company.
Starbucks is normally slotted into the food-and-beverage category, but I think it's more of a tech company -- if not like Google, then at least like Amazon.
Amazon started out as an online bookstore then branched into selling everything. Today, Amazon differentiates itself against other retailers with algorithms, cloud services, robots and drones -- not to mention tablets, TV boxes and, soon, a 3D smartphone. Amazon doesn't belong in the "retail store" category. It's a technology company.
Likewise, Starbucks started out selling coffee (it initially sold Peet's coffee, actually). But now Starbucks is essentially a technology company. Here's why:
Wireless charging has been stuck in the mud for years. Mainstream acceptance is always coming next year. But somehow, next year never arrives. A few high-end phones support wireless charging, but for the most part, it's still a nonstarter.
That's why it's significant that Starbucks this week announced a plan to install 100,000 wireless chargers in more than 7,500 of its stores over the next three years. That's more than 10 charging stations per store.
Never mind that the company is supporting only one of the competing standards and therefore most smartphones won't be able to take advantage of its wireless charging service. In fact, Starbucks is supporting a standard that isn't very popular among smartphone makers: the Power Matters Alliance standard. Smartphone makers tend to support the Wireless Power Consortium standard (better known as the Qi standard).
The important thing is that Starbucks is going big and being very visible about wireless charging. It will stimulate demand and drive conversations about the support of standards.
Indoor location beacons
At its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple demonstrated a feature that displays the icons associated with stores or locations on the lock screen when you arrive at those locations -- even if you've never downloaded the store's app! Tapping on the icon takes you to the Apple App Store to download the app if you don't have it, and launches it if you do.
Apple's poster child for this feature was Starbucks. The feature uses Apple's iBeacon system, the micro-location technology I've written about in this space in the past (see "Why Apple's 'Indoor GPS' Plan Is Brilliant" and "Apple's iBeacon Gets Fun").
It seems obvious to me that Starbucks is likely to add iBeacons to all of its stores, making it possible for you to order a drink in advance and then auto-notify the barista when you walk in the door. Your drink will be ready by the time you make it to the register.
- Mission Critical: Managing Mobile Applications & Content Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become embedded in enterprise processes, thanks to the consumerization of IT and a new generation of...
- Securing Mobility, From Device to Network At one time, the process of managing and securing mobile devices and applications was fairly straightforward. Most organizations worried about one application (email)...
- Planning for Mobile Success Many organizations are seeing clear and quantifiable benefits from the deployment of mobile technologies that provide access to data and applications any time,...
- The Challenges and Opportunities of Mobile Application Development Nearly all business users now demand mobile devices--their own or company-owned--along with anywhere access to corporate applications and data. What turns mobile devices...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their... All Retail White Papers | Webcasts