McDonald Offers Free Wi-Fi: A Non-Zero Sum Game

An excellent move by the McDonald Chain which is going to offer free internet access from January 2010 at the 11,000 franchises across the United States of America, which is an excellent evolution in the marketing strategy.

Summer time two years ago my family and I took up a cross country trip. As I intended to work and take a relaxed family time I worked from my laptop while we hurtled down the highways of the U.S.A in our trusted family car. We managed to find a Wi-Fi hotspot all along the highway where I could get in touch with the world.

While we travelled I knew that there would be many hotspots along the highway offered by local businesses and establishments but how do you seek them out while travelling at 70 miles per hour. What I needed was a well – know chain of a business which had franchisees across the nation. A well know chain like Starbucks and McDonald’s which would offer a Wi-Fi connection, they do, for a fee.

Using my smart GPS I found hotspot going by the name Panera Bread. The first free Wi-Fi connection was offered by Panera Bread. The reason their fame name and fame is not as widespread is because they are not as numerous as the McDonald’s or Starbucks.

The Panera Bread locales offered me fair business in the form of a win-win situation where I work sitting at their Wi-Fi sites and earn money to pay for the snacks, coffee, and the meals I buy of their business, a very viable process which benefits both the parties. Also consider this – I was not going to have my coffee at Starbucks and check my mail at the Panera, therefore the money for the coffee too goes to Panera!

Charging For the Wi-Fi Is Bad For Business

Wayport was bought out by AT&T, which was the service provider for McDonald’s and Starbucks, the franchisees of these chains offered free access for the subscribers of the home network but not for others. The others had to pay $2.95 for a 2 hours access to the internet.

Now the problem with these rates is that most people walk in to these joints pick their coffee and eatables, refresh at the services and take off again, after all they are highway drive-ins! It would be an added facility to be able to check their emails too within these 15 to 30 minutes they spend at these stops. Does it make sense to pay $3 for a 15 minutes access which is equal to $12 per hour?

Instead if used in moderate frequencies using a mobile broadband connection the user will be able to connect to the internet via the wireless connection just about anywhere.

Offer Wi-Fi – Good Business through Utility

As McDonald had franchisees everywhere it makes good sense that they offer a free Wi-Fi service facilitating my cross country travels with connectivity to the rest of the world this utility also gives me value for my money. Don’t we all know that the most our kids are fanatical about McDonald?

My PC World Peer described the free McDonald’s Wi-Fi service by AT&T so aptly that it works in Mickey D’s favor. This s because he had stopped in the McDonald’s Hotspots and not only used the Wi-Fi utility but also bought a chilled can of coke and a hot serve of potato fries, a quid pro quo.

People on the road hop into the McDonald have a bite, relieve themselves; stretch their legs check the traffic conditions and personal and business emails, news headlines and scores of their favourite games in these hotspots and then get on with the journey. They can download and important document, presentations and respond to urgent mails on the go while grabbing a bit of those supremely delicious fries and Coke.

Wi-Fi has become more of a utility than a luxury at this point of our civilization it has become a free service provided by many businesses as all of us lead a real and virtual life and providing this service brings clientele. A time is approaching when the Wi-Fi will be an expected utility in all business establishments frequented b public but as of now Ma Donald has a distinction of being ahead of its competitors by offering people another reason to visit their vast networks of franchisees.

Starbucks should buck up. McDonald’s has already ventured into the Starbucks territory by setting its McCafe. We already get similar beverages at the McDonalds as we do at the Starbucks but at half the price with a plus of the Wi-Fi services, an irresistible offer!

Now it’s Starbuck’s turn to make a move in the Game.

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