Google's experiment to bring super high-speed Internet access to select communities via its Google Fiber program has reportedly been a success. But some fans of the company based in major tech hubs where the service is unavailable have been feeling a little left out. Well, it appears that everyone will now have the opportunity to experience at least one version of high-speed Internet access from Google thanks to a new partnership with Starbucks.
The company has just announced plans to equip all 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. with Wi-Fi access that it claims will be up to 10 times faster than current speeds. And, if you're in a Google Fiber-connected city, the company says that it's hoping to "get you a connection that's up to 100x faster."
In some ways, Google's decision to team up with Starbucks before rolling out Google Fiber nationwide is probably more important than its aspirations to become a home Internet access player. At this point, because of the free Internet access, Starbucks serves serves as a kind of de facto co-working office space for millions of freelancers around the world.
Just a few months ago I decided to work at a local Starbucks a couple of mornings in a row and I was astounded by how few people were there to simply drink coffee, or even read a book. Most were equipped with a laptop and were deadly serious about acquiring a prime table to set up for working. Not surfing casually, but working. For hours. By taking over Starbucks' Wi-Fi, Google has just secured access to the Internet habits of a huge portion of the U.S. working population.
Make no mistake, this is potentially bigger than Glass, bigger than Chromecast, and could have the same kind of impact as Gmail in terms of Google's reach and access to large amounts of user data. Initial deployment of the network, which will be named "Google Starbucks" on your Wi-Fi device menu, will begin in August and continue over the next 18 months.