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November 02, 2005
What Starbucks can teach you about the pace of technological adoption
Venture capitalist Pip Coburn has an interesting post on the Always On Network, where he writes that "watching traffic patterns at Starbucks can reveal all we need to know about the future pace of adoption of the ubiquitous wireless broadband cloud." Working off three major assumptions, Pip makes a link between seat density patterns at New York-area Starbucks and the future development of ubiquitous broadband Internet access.
In the first major stage, people learn to work in large numbers at "third places" like Starbucks. Then, these people start to demand broadband network access [i.e. T-Mobile] while working there. Finally, when these behavioral patterns become more established, they begin to demand broadband network access everywhere. In New York, we're definitely at stage 2.5 and maybe even stage 3.
Pip puts on his cultural anthropologist hat while digesting information about traffic patterns at local Starbucks stores:
"So a few weeks ago, my partner Dave Bujnowski was shut out at his local Starbucks in Greenwich Village—frequented by Mike Myers and Malcolm Gladwell he claims—at 11 in the morning when he went over to diddle on his Dell. No seats at Starbucks at 11 am... The next day, I wandered over to the Starbucks at 48th and Park and the same thing happened at about the same time of day. No seats at Starbucks... Then last Wednesday, Arnie Berman—our great friend and newly appointed central figure in tech research at Cowen—and I were forced to sit outside of that same 48th and Park Starbucks around 3 pm in the afternoon. No seats at Starbucks."
Clearly, there's something happening as more and more workers find ways to get their work done at "third places" like Starbucks.
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