If there's any way to get consumers on your side in the Digital Era, it's to make sure they have connection anywhere and everywhere to the World Wide Web on your tab. In other words, providing free Wi-Fi is a damn smart method of promotion because, regardless if you even want to buy the product, it's a win-win situation for both you and the provider. You get your Wi-Fi and they get your attention.
Case in point: starting November 1st, Microsoft, in a deal with Boingo, will provide
Wi-Fi to over 200 spots in New York, in addition to San Francisco and
the six subway stations in Manhattan already providing the service, as a part of a media blitz for their new operating system, Windows 8. The free Internet will last until the end of 2012, making us happy cogs in this marketing scheme for at least a solid two months.
The computer giant is hoping that we will surf the Windows Store, which will appear online
on October 28th, and eventually buy Windows 8. It's a rough risk to run, though: knowing New Yorkers (and, America, for that matter
), the Wi-Fi will be used for Instagramming the brunch you just had and the following tweet about how unbelievably delicious it was.
Google pulled a similar move last month in the same six subway stations to promote its Google Play music downloading service, except it (sort of
) limited the use of its free Wi-Fi to Droid users - thus proving once again: the smartphone rivalry really
sucks. However, Microsoft will not discriminate based on device: everyone's allowed to jump on the Web because Wi-Fi sees no label. Thanks for the net neutrality, Mr. Gates.
The one thing about the people's use of Wi-Fi, though, is the lack of care towards whose giving it to you. I've apathetically signed onto networks with names that would ruin the innocence of a nuclear family because, in the end, I just wanted to tweet faster with little to no care towards who helped me do that. This proves trouble for Microsoft: the target audience might just want to connect and that is it.
But, as mentioned before, who cares? It's still a win-win situation (for anyone going to brunch after November 1st).