Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Needs More Java

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing linked to the Starbuck's Delocator, which in principal, sounds like a great idea: a website that helps you locate non-Starbuck cafes. In reality though, the site leaves a lot to be desired.

First off, the entire site is one long chain of popups. Because everyone loves popups.

Secondly, as Cory points out, they don't actually use the Starbuck's name anywhere on their site, for fear of Corporate reprisal. Which means, you can't find it by doing a Google search (at least until more people link to the site, to raise its hits).

Thirdly, and most importantly the site doesn't seem to work. I did three tests, to see if it could find any cafes.

The first search was for the area around me here, just south of Baltimore. It found no cafes. I found this odd, since there's at least a Panera Bread Company down the road. I know I'm out here in the burbs, but is this thing really telling me the closest cafe is Red Emma's, a twenty minute drive into the city? But hay, it did identify two Starbuck's franchises in the area.

The second search I did was in Savannah. This was the real test, as there's a great little non-Starbuck's cafe, Gallery Espresso, a block form mine and Elvira's apartment, with free Wifi, hip music and plenty of comfy couches. The Delocator couldn't find it but it did find four Starbuck's franchises.

It did, however, on the third try, locate College Perk, the coffee house near campus. It also located 8 Starbuck's franchises in the area as well.

I'm not too terribly impressed, as the site seems to know where every Starbuck's is, but can't find even well known cafes. Makes me wonder if it's really just a marketing toy Starbuck's cooked up for techno geeks.

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