Users of Android -powered devices that don't have data plans -- or those who want to cut down on their billed data usage -- will soon be able to get online at 4,000 Boingo hotspots around the country, with Google paying the tab.
It's part of a promotion to get Android users -- and those using Windows or Mac laptops -- to explore the apps , games and music at available at Google Play. When they log in, they'll get a prompt to visit the store, formerly known as the Android Market. Apple mobile devices won't be able to connect, however.
It's an expansion of a promotion Google Offers and Boingo offered in New York City this summer at subway stations and 200 other hotspots.
An Everyone-Wins Strategy
Los Angeles-based Boingo gained the nationwide hotspots when it acquired the Cloud Nine Media platform last month, a global advertising network that matches advertisers with captive audiences through Wi-Fi sponsorships.
The monthlong September promotion will include 15 airports, including New York's John F. Kennedy, Chicago O'Hare and Seattle-Tacoma as well as some Manhattan subway stations and thousands of points of interest such as hotels, malls, cafes and recreational areas.
Cloud Nine, founded in 2010 by Sebastian Tonkin, who formerly worked in performance marketing for Google Analytics, provides advertisers a 30-minute spot that Wi-Fi users see when they log into a hotspot.
Boingo is casting the deal as an everyone-wins situation.
"Google Play is the first to take part in our newly expanded Wi-Fi sponsorship network, which reaches millions of consumers each month with place-based brand engagements," said Dawn Callahan, vice president of consumer marketing for Boingo Wireless, in a statement. "Sponsorships like this give users the free Wi-Fi they crave, advertisers the consumer interaction they need, and venues the revenue to offset the costs associated with providing a high-bandwidth Wi-Fi experience."
Could Replace Data Fees for Tablets
This is not the first time Google has sponsored free Wi-Fi as a promotion, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. The Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant teamed with Gogo to provide Internet access to passengers on Virgin America, Delta and AirTran Airways during the 2010-2011 holiday season.
"At first, the instances were billed as a holiday special, but last year, they used it as a promotion for Chromebooks," King said.
"What's intriguing here is how this might relate to Amazon 's $50-per-year [LTE ] service with AT&T – cheap, but with a puny amount of data (250 megabytes). Wireless fees are a significant cost for tablets like the iPad, especially as providers move away from unlimited data plans."
King said a permanent alternative to wireless carriers' 3G and 4G data plans via Wi-Fi hotspots, which can offer faster speeds at lower cost, "could change the mobile computing game in ways that benefit the company and Android customers."
Based on your interest in this article, here's something that may be of interest to you also:
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Google pretends to be a harmless lamb, but chose a full-size model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex as its mascot. Beware the T-Rex in sheep's clothing.
Posted: 2012-09-13 @ 5:43am PT
Well, you can't complain about free public WiFi. But the fact that only Android devices shall be supported, is a bit limiting. I think I had read somewhere that at least laptops from all brands will be able to access the Internet. If that's true, it should come as some respite for those like me who work out of coffee shops and pubs. At least, I am covered, since the coffee shop I frequent is powered by Wavespot, and already provides free WiFi connectivity.