WSJ on McDonald’s and Starbucks Competition

Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about how Starbucks is struggling and how McDonald’s is trying to steal the coffee chain’s customers with espresso drinks. It’s an interesting article:

McDonald’s is setting out to poach Starbucks customers with the biggest addition to its menu in 30 years. Starting this year, the company’s nearly 14,000 U.S. locations will install coffee bars with “baristas” serving cappuccinos, lattes, mochas and the Frappe, similar to Starbucks’ ice-blended Frappuccino.

Internal documents from 2007 say the program, which also will add smoothies and bottled beverages, will add $1 billion to McDonald’s annual sales of $21.6 billion.

What immediately struck me here is not the coffee drama but the “kiosk potential” for local search and geotargeted ads, a la Captivate TV or RippleTV. McDonald’s locations have Wi-Fi in many cases and there’s also a new deal with DVD rental kiok provider Redbox. Starbucks also has Wi-Fi and an Apple/iTunes relationship.

How long before these and other chains offer interactive Internet kioks that are ad supported? Someone would have to fund that of course and that might be the big barrier here. But I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of local search kioks in the world that enable people to get local content, offers and other information out in the real world on a larger touch screen.


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