Will Free Wi-Fi From Google, Microsoft Push Fellow Tech Giants To Give?
In just two weeks, Black Friday 2010 will be a thing of the past. People will have maxed out on their favorite stocking-stuffers, and chaos will have calmed in any store where one can purchase the number one toy of 2010: the Syma S107 Micro RC Helicopter.
But as people across the country are recovering from the pushing, shoving, and trampling injuries that are sure to be sustained during their holiday shopping sprees, Google and Microsoft give us a look into what the holidays should be about: giving.
Microsoft and Google are providing free Wi-Fi internet in various locations across the United States this holiday season.
Microsoft plans to create thousands of hotspots in so-far unspecified hotels and airports across the U.S. that are accessible completely free of charge, as long as you use their Bing search engine to search the web at least once.
Google, on the other hand, is focusing on the skies. Last year, they offered free Wi-Fi at 47 different airports from November to January. This year, they are offering free Wi-Fi on AirTran, Virgin and Delta flights.
Charitable acts like these are not out of the ordinary for these two companies.
Microsoft’s founder and CEO, Bill Gates, is the second most generous philanthropist in the United States, most notably for his work on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the scholarships that he has created.
With these two tech giants taking their responsibility as global business leaders so seriously, it is no doubt that others have the ability, and definitely should, follow that lead.
Apple, for instance, could set-aside a number of their soon-to-be-obsolete Macbook Pro laptops for struggling public school districts in heavily impoverished areas, such as Los Angeles or Detroit.
Sony could provide a program where individuals can trade in their old televisions for a discount on their brand-new, beautiful 3D TVs, and give the old televisions, along with a DVD copy of Rudolph or A Christmas Story to struggling families.
Amazon could give away Kindles to schools or libraries plundered by budget cuts, eBay could offer the option for sellers to give away 10 percent of their earnings to homeless shelters, or Facebook could donate five cents for every ad hit that it gets on Christmas Day to a handful of soup kitchens.
In a modern-day United States overwhelmingly obsessed with consumerism, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to assume that some of the billions of dollars that we collectively spend on gizmos, toys and apparel each holiday season could be set-aside for those who need it most.
Do you have suggestions for other Holiday offers tech companies should make?
Editor's note: The original version of this article mistakenly said Google was offering free wi-fi at 47 airports this year. In fact, that Holiday promotion was last year's gift from Google.
Reach reporter Devon Meyer here.
Follow him on Twitter: @DMeyer212.