Google, Yahoo, Microsoft: Who’s got more Wi-Fi?

November 10, 2009

The Web is supposed to be a breeding ground of innovation, but lately it’s begun to look like a game of monkey-see, monkey-do.

First came last month’s Twitter love-fest, when Web giants Microsoft and Google made back-to-back announcements on the same day that their respective search engines would begin to incorporate Tweets in search results.

Now giving away free Wi-Fi Internet access appears to be the promotional tool du jour.

On Tuesday, Yahoo promised free Wi-Fi to the estimated 500,000 people who wander through New York’s Times Square on any given day. The company will light up Times Square for the next twelve months.

Not to be outdone, Google announced on Tuesday that it was offering free Wi-Fi at 47 U.S. airports through January 15 as a special “holiday gift.”

Meanwhile, MediaPost reported that Microsoft has its own free Wi-Fi plan through a partnership with JiWire. The companies have been offering free Internet access at North American airports and hotels in exchange for a consumer conducting a single search on Bing, Microsoft’s revamped search engine.

As the Web giants compete to sell ad impressions, they’re increasingly trying to rope in web surfers at the starting gate – or at least at airports and in Times Square.

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