Monday, August 08, 2005

More power to Starbucks

No, it's not that I think Starbucks is all that great. In fact, I prefer taking my business to local coffeehouses. But, because my favorite local coffeehouse is run by a pair of Luddites who refuse to put in wireless service, when I need to access the Internet I go to Starbucks. And Starbucks needs more power -- power outlets, that is.

A few years ago, I was the only guy sitting in Starbucks tapping on a laptop PC. Apparently, I am a harbinger of major trends. Today, at any given time of day, you'll find three or four or more folks in the nearest Starbucks doing the tapping and squinting thing, all of them paying their monthly fees to T-Mobile for use of their WiFi hotspot service.

The problem with all these interlopers is that the average Starbucks store doesn't have that many power outlets. All those laptops have to be powered, and laptop batteries only last so long, so everyone has to jockey for primo table position near a free outlet. Now, I'm relatively lucky; some older and smaller Starbucks don't have much table space or outlet availability at all. My preferred Starbucks (there are six within a ten-minute drive) is a newer, larger store, so finding a table generally isn't a problem. Finding a power outlet is, however. This particular Starbucks only has three power outlets in the entire store. That's not enough.

It pisses me off to no end to trundle into the store at my regular time and find some yahoo sitting at my powered tabled of choice. It's even worse when the yahoo isn't using the power -- when, like today, it's some old fart sitting and reading the newspaper. He can read that damned newspaper anywhere in the store, why does he have to read it at my regular table, next to the coveted power outlet? Doesn't he know that's my table? Doesn't he know that some of us actually need to use that power outlet? Who let him into the store in the first place? The staff should know better than to serve crusty old time-wasters like him. Kick him out, is what I say.

Anyway, you see my point. Starbucks needs more power outlets. If they really want to cater to the laptop-toting crowd, and if the keyboard tappers continue to grow in number, Starbucks and other WiFi-enabled coffeehouses need to take the power situation into consideration. Hell, I'd gladly buy them an extension cord and outlet strip, if that's what it takes. We're here, we're tapping away, and our batteries are running down -- give us a break, okay?

But that's just my (battery-powered) opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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