Ambient fulfilment and on-demand space

The iPod hookup with Starbucks has had a mixed reception. I thought that it was intriguing as one of those little newsflashes from the future. From a story about how the current iPod form factor will be replaced by one based on the iPhone.

In a curious marketing twist, Apple will take advantage of the machine's wireless capability by linking up with the Starbucks coffee chain. Customers who hear a song they like playing in the cafe will be able to download it immediately at the touch of a button. [Farewell to a classic design as Jobs unveils the iPod touch | Technology | The Guardian]

As the network permeates more of our environment, discovery happens everywhere. And discovery without fulfilment disappoints.

Engadget carries a blow-by-blow discussion of the Jobs' announcement, which included a presentation by Howard Schultz ofStarbucks'.

I was interested to see that Starbucks has 14,000 stores worldwide, open 7 new stores a day, and has 50 million customers a week. We have been living in

We live a hundred yards or so off High Street, a pre-freeway north-south arterial road in Columbus. In the (gulp) nearly six years we have been here we have seen the following coffee shops open within 1.7 miles (according to Google Maps) of where we live: two branches of Starbucks, one Caribou, one Cup o'Joes (local) and one Crimson Cup (local). Folks must be drinking a lot of coffee .... and meeting, working, communicating in the 'on-demand' space they provide. It is a natural place to provide service - and it has been interesting to see how Starbucks has developed its media business around this space.

It seems to me that the role of the coffee house, and it must be said, Starbucks in particular given its reach, in the contemporary urban setting is becoming clearer. Starbucks provides time-place alignment in busy, moving lives: in other words it provides 'on-demand place'. It provides a place which is convenient at the time that it is required. This may be for downtime (a place to spend time relaxing), connect-time (a place to spend time connecting to the network), rendezvous time (a place to spend time with others), work-time (a place to spend time working). A colleague recently described Starbucks to me as his mobile office when he was on the road. It is not unusual to see job interviews take place there. [Lorcan Dempsey's weblog: Starbucks and other coffee houses - an observation and a prediction]
Coffee too, of course, ...... and music.

Related entries: Starbucks and perceptions

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