Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Doma, is an iPad ok?"

The next iPad commercial should be set in a coffee shop like Doma.

I'm not one to fight with coffee shops on their policies. I understand when the owner is looking to manage the clientele from hogging seats and sipping one coffee over a long period while browsing the web. But my favorite coffee shop in the city is Doma and they have decided to ban computers past 6pm so that they can usher in more lounge-y people who are more likely to take advantage of their new simplified menu in the evenings.

The question I didn't think to ask the people who run Doma until showertime today was 'What if I only use an iPad?' To some substituting an iPad may seem like a sneaky way of just getting around the new Doma code of conduct, but others might think this is a legitimate excuse. After all, as a Doma customer you have a very good chance you have iPhone in your pocket, and an iPhone shares the same operating system as the iPad, and likely all the same content, just in a smaller form. Also, it would be quite weird if a place like Doma did anything but encourage you to bring a magazine or a book, and one way of bringing those reading materials is certainly to via iPad.

In fact while I was getting the PC boot from one of the owners I happened to be responding to an email from a family friend about whether he should ditch his laptop for an iPad. And although I told him to hold off because of the lack of file storing capabilities, it got me thinking that with the limitations of an iPad, it is easier to start to break out modes of behavior when interacting with the device. Some behavior, like sending email on an iPad, to me is just as good a behavior in a coffeeshop as staring at someone across the room. Then again, iPads can show movies, which could even make Starbucks think about imposing term limits on tables if there were no policy in place against media devices.

If everyone has a smartphone, then policies that ban any devices may be insufficient for helping Doma, or any business that looks to attract customers to seats for any period of time. They just can limit 'devices' because they want to curb free-rider behavior. Now that devices like the iPad exist, it seems we need to think of more clever ways to day-part customer profiles. And in fact, if planned correctly there could easily be 4 or more legitimate day-parts to any simple coffee shop.

An Apple commercial could show local businesses how a place like Doma can put up a category badge (physical or digital) every 4 hours as a sign to encourage different ambient behavior. Maybe coffee is only the main attraction early morning and coffee behavior like email and newspaper reading only occupies the first 4hrs of the day. Then by mid-day the fare has changed to tea and vitamin water and clients are encouraged to browse magazines and books. After 6 we switch to cocktails, IMDB and Scrabble and then late night it's time for beers, movies and TV.




If all of those customers are different people in a single day, then Doma achieves their goal of serving different customers different food and drink, and potentially different services (like WiFi for the watching the movie) at different parts of the day. Simply put, they are bringing in classes of uncorrelated asses and mitigating risk.

blog comments powered by Disqus