Starbucks Expands Internet Service, International Cafes
Starbucks plans on extensive international expansion, and to expand wireless service provided by VoiceStream to 70 percent of its cafés during the next several years. So far, the only cafés with wireless Internet access are in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas. Customers will be able access the Internet using their own wireless-enabled laptops and hand-held devices. The company also plans to use the high-speed Internet connection for operation improvements, training and inventory management.
Starbucks will open stores in Mexico and Indonesia, and its first in Spain, Germany and Greece, this year. The company is investigating entering other Latin American markets, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It opens an average of three new stores each day worldwide and has more than 1,000 stores in 24 countries outside the United States. “We are just at the beginning of opening stores on an international level,” Starbucks Chief Executive Orin Smith says.
Moderator Comment: Does Starbucks risk overexposing
its brand by being so ubiquitous?
Starbucks is in perpetual motion. In addition to the
news about rolling out wireless Internet service in its stores, Starbucks is
testing drive-thrus to capture consumers who do not have the time or the desire
for the café experience. The brand is in supermarket aisles, Barnes &
Noble, airports, etc. New stores are popping up around the world at an average
of three new locations a day. Is there a bubble here that is set to burst or
will Starbucks become synonymous with the most recognizable brands in the world
such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney, etc.? [George
Anderson – Moderator]