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Borders and T-Mobile to put hot spots in 400 stores by early 2003: T-Mobile and Borders Books announced today that T-Mobile would create hot spots in 400 Borders store by early next year. This begs several questions: Starbucks is the exclusive national partner for cafes for Barnes and Noble -- did B and N blink?; do we really need a hot spot in tiny cafes with small tables attached to a bookstore? (that begs a lot of questions); and, why can't Borders and T-Mobile actually post a press release on their respective sites when at least two media outlets have the information? Alan Reiter beats me to the link, once again, and offers a variety of analysis on the topic.
And you have to ask: has Borders really thought this through? In an article last year in the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick exposed a startling fact, that most of the big box chain bookstores had quietly and substantially reduced the number of books they offer at less than full list price. The perception of discount was much higher than the reality. With Internet access at a Borders store, I could see how much cheaper it would be to buy the books I want from Borders online or Amazon.com. Better still, one could use a book price comparison engine (like mine) to find out how much a used copy from Half.com, Powell's, or ABEBooks.com would cost. Hopefully, Borders can track Internet usage vs. same-store sales.
I just spoke to Borders: the 400 stores announced is the entire chain. They have nearly that many now, with over 400 planned to be open by Christmas. The rollout should be done by mid-2003 with a formal announcement at that point, even though service will be available (starting in California) in the meantime.
Kevin Werbach says Voice over IP coupled with Wi-Fi is the killer app: David Sifry's blog pointed me to Kevin's post. David expands on Kevin's point by expanding the notion to public spaces. There are products that do PBX-based VOIP with any Wi-Fi network from SpectraLink and now Vocera. But the real issue in public spaces is authentication and billing: how do you handle a captive portal login from a telephone or badge interface? Obviously, you partner with aggregators to integrate authentication in the phone through corporate IT configuring systems. Boingo + VOIP = VOIPo?