Sunday Morning at Starbucks

Sunday mornings are lazy in my world. We spend Saturday evenings in church which could allow me an opportunity to sleep in if there weren't two loud boys arguing over an Xbox game. The lack of coffee meant that someone was going to have to make a run for some fresh brew. I volunteered because I have a slight addition to Foursquare and enjoy score boarding my co-workers. 

I was fortunate to get an empty line, score. My iced coffee was ready first so I went to "customize" my drink. While I was standing  at the table tinkering with my cup I looked around to see what people were doing. There were just a few open tables and a handful of chairs along the outside window. Slightly more than I would have expected for that time of morning. Everyone I observed was dressed pretty casually and seemingly content to enjoy the cup of joe in their hand. I noticed three different table engaged in conversation. One discussing a book another couple talking seemed like old friends catching up and the third table had several people talking about something where one person seemed to know all the answers.

At this point I was curious if anyone ventured in with their iPad. The answer was no. In fact I only saw two computers but at least seven tables reading newspapers. It is important to point out that this Starbucks is not in the hippest, richest or coolest location so I didn't have much of an expectation to see tables full of iPads. It did get me thinking though that with the easy access to newspapers it is a relatively cheap way to pass the time. In fact there are plenty of "extra" papers laying around that one could just pick up and read if the desire was there. How does a $500 device compare to what basically amounts to an impulse buy in this context? Is the iPad a coffee shop time killer? 

What if Starbucks, or insert your favorite coffee shop here, had an iPad at every table? I'd be curious to see how people would interact with the device in that scenario. Surely someone will figure out a pay-per-use model that would allow this kind of thing to work. Any touchscreen device might work, but the advantage with a device like the iPad is that you don't have to worry about someone hacking or installing something evil. But I wonder if people would still prefer the tactile feel of the newspaper while enjoying their coffee. I also wonder if the newspaper isn't just filling a time killing void in the coffee shop. I wonder if anyone has done any studies on where people read the newspaper and their ability to retain the information they read. Might be a good Google Scholar exercise.

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