Free wifi seems to be the new black as of late when it comes to Internet companies promoting their offerings. As you may or may not know, I am a disgruntled Blackberry Storm user who went with an iTouch so I could at least be in the same room as the cool kids but if there’s no Wifi there’s no go. Well, depending on where I may roam and when I am out and about I may have more connectivity then I am accustomed to thanks to a rush of folks thinking it would be cool if there were “Wifi for all” during the holiday season. Hmmmm, I wonder if they have ulterior motives other than just being nice……
Here’s a list of who’s doing what and where.
Google – CNN Money reports that Google is providing free Wifi to travelers in 47 airports across the country. Pretty neat. All of the international airports in Florida will reap the benefits through the rest of the year. Not to be outdone Google is making sure that people in some less trafficked airports like Billings, MT can try out any new Google goodies while waiting for their flights. This offer is in addition the already announced free Wifi on Virgin America flights as well.
Yahoo – Not to be outdone, Yahoo has announced it will provide free Wifi to Times Square in New York City for an entire year. Nice!
A rep says it’s “the latest literal expression of Yahoo’s promise to be at the center of people’s online lives”—which is also a theme of the company’s $100 million ad campaign
Don’t you just get a boat load of warm fuzzies when you hear that from Yahoo! (Hi, Carol!)
eBay – For those flying Delta for the Thanksgiving holiday eBay will be providing free Wifi through Gogo. Nice touch. Don’t forget to do your holiday shopping while at 30,000 feet. Welcome to the new version of the “Mile High Club” which is G-rated and fun for the whole family.
Even brands like Lexus are utilizing the free Wifi approach to get their word out. While more product related around the intro of a new vehicle, the car maker offered free Wifi for a week on American Airlines flights.
Google is making sure that it does more than anyone else apparently as they tie a charitable effort to their promotion as well.
The company is also running a charity campaign to raise money for three nonprofit groups: Engineers without Borders, One Economy Corporation and Climate Savers Computing Initiative. When Google WiFi users first log on, the landing page will offer them the option of donating to the organizations. Google will match donations of up to $250,000 per airport.
Now, I don’t know the economics of this kind of effort but this kind of sponsored offering makes the most sense to me as a great way to spend marketing dollars and add utility all at once. If I could ditch my Storm and use the iTouch just about anywhere then maybe my hybrid Apple and Droid dream could come true. I would be endeared to anyone who helped make that happen.