Starbucks Looks to Power Up From Wireless Charging
When it comes to technological innovation, Starbucks has often been an industry leader, from being one of the first companies to offer customers free Wi-Fi in its stores to developing an order-and-payment app whose design has been hailed as a model of simplicity and ease. Now it's taking another advance by partnering with Duracell to begin rolling out nationally the battery maker's Powermat wireless charging stations.
Today, finding Wi-Fi hotspots is pretty simple. Along with apps that will help you find one, mobile devices themselves are always looking for a signal to keep you connected. But that wasn't always the case: When Starbucks rolled out the technology at all of its restaurants in 2001, most devices at the time didn't even have such connectivity options available. Today, it's almost expected for stores of all kinds to have free Wi-Fi, so much so that when troubled department store retailer J.C. Penney actually ended its service last year, analysts thought that alone might doom the chain.
Yet not all of Starbucks' tech innovations have been a smashing success. Back in 1999, it announced plans to set up an Internet division (with its very own literary magazine, Joe) that was quickly withdrawn. It partnered with Hewlett-Packard to let customers burn custom audio CDs, but that never went anywhere, and it had its own music label for a hot minute -- and offered CDs, DVDs, and books -- that it shuttered in 2008. A mobile payment system with Square, in which it invested $25 million, also failed.
Still, perhaps because the java slinger's clientele is young, well-off, and Internet savvy, Starbucks' persistence in going back to the technological well time and again has paid off. Not having to go searching for an outlet or extension cord would appeal to them.
The Duracell Powermat is a joint venture formed in 2011 between Powermat and Duracell owner Procter & Gamble to "advance and globalize wireless charging." At the time, the two cited market research from IHS iSuppli expecting wireless charging to be a multibillion-dollar market by 2015. It previously partnered with Madison Square Garden to allow sports fans to charge devices while attending sporting events; with General Motors, which agreed to have it installed in certain models (Toyota partnered with Denso to have its Qi system installed on its Avalon Limited); and even with the European Poker Tour to give card players wireless charging capabilities near the tables.
Like Starbucks' agreement with Square Wallet for a mobile payment system, the partnership with Duracell Powermat has similarly high expectations for adoption by customers. Yet where the payment system went bust, there doesn't seem to be the same concern here that the Powermat Spots experiment will fail, even if it does require device compatibility.
Unlike the payment app, though, which offered little more than what Starbucks' own app already did, being able to wirelessly charge a mobile device seems like a benefit that will keep coffee drinkers coming back for a refill.
Charge up your portfolio with Apple's next smart device
Apple recently recruited a secret-development Dream Team to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out... and some early viewers are even claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, AND the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of these type of devices will be sold per year. But one small company makes this gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!
The article Starbucks Looks to Power Up From Wireless Charging originally appeared on Fool.com.Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Starbucks. It recommends General Motors and Procter & Gamble and owns shares of Madison Square Garden. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.