Starbucks sells more coffee than service: Starbucks apparently told this writer, although the attribution is general, that 25,000 people connect each week in its stores. This number isn't broken out by monthly subscriber versus hourly or pay-as-you-go patron. With over 2,200 stores unwired by T-Mobile, this averages to 10 connections a week or a little over one per day per store.
In the best scenario, that income might average to $150 per store per month (say two monthly subscribers at $30 each and 15 hours at $6.00 each). The cost per store certainly exceeds $500 and might be as much as $2,000 per month.
However, one could expect that certain stores are turning a profit: in dense areas, it's much more likely that a store is racking up hundreds of connections a month, not just a dozen or two.
It's also disingenuous for T-Mobile to say that they aren't marketing the service: they send out direct mail, they promote it on their Web site, they tell their cell subscribers about it, and they're involved in co-marketing with Starbucks and HP (which has a so-called connection tool that works with a couple of HP-provided Wi-Fi cards, but they want on the bandwagon) as well as with Intel's Centrino campaign.
Here's the kicker in the story for Starbucks, not T-Mobile, which makes their saliva start to flow: And Wi-Fi service has turned him into a loyal Starbucks customer. "Having the T-Mobile has completely locked me down here, as opposed to the Cosi across the street," he said.
That's nice for Starbucks, but unless T-Mobile is given an incremental per store percentage of aggregate increased sales based on the number of Wi-Fi users at any given time, this doesn't pay the T-1 bill.