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Starbucks Embraces the Web with Starbucks Digital Network Launch

Starbucks today launched the Starbucks Digital Network, an online hub for the customers of the coffee shop.

After buying their drink and pastry, visitors with laptops, iPad’s or smartphones can plug in and log on to the network, which was created in partnership with Yahoo!

WebNewser got a guided tour of the network from Starbucks CIO and GM of digital Stephen Gillett at the company’s Empire State Building location.

The network will only be accesible via the shop’s in-house Wifi network, and is based around a homepage, which will feature music recommendations, video clips and reading material.

At launch there will be six separate sections, for “news,” “entertainment,” “wellness,” “business & careers,” “my neighborhood” and “Starbucks,” each with unique content.

“We had a gaming on there originally, but as we talked to our customers and looked at what was important to them, we found out a lot of information about the content categories,” Gillett says. “Local was a big one, health and wellness, hard news. They will evolve over time.” Another future category could include sports, though customer feedback still needs to be tallied.

One of the things that makes the Starbucks Digital Network unique will be free access to content that normally costs money. For example, users can access the Wall Street Journal’s website without a subscription and can download the New York Times’ premium iPad application at no cost.

“If you are going on a date and you are looking for a restaurant and you are in local, because we know what store you are in and what city, Zagat will find all the local restaurants in your area,” Gillett says. “Normally that would be behind a paywall.”

The local section is particularly robust, with content from Patch, Zagat, and tight Foursquare integration. Foursquare users on the Starbucks Digital Network will be able to check in via their web browser, a first for the service.

“Considering they have to be on our Wifi, we can be pretty confident as to where they are,” Gillett joked.

Rodale, which publishes Men’s Health and Runner’s World, among other publications, has built a special app for the network, which highlights running trails near the Starbucks where the user is logging on.

Related: So What Do You Do, Adam Brotman, VP of Starbucks Digital Ventures?

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