Starbucks Taps Akamai to Support “Now Playing” Service; Our Feelings Still Hurt

I can’t decide if I think this is a further snub, or a subtle attempt to make amends.

Last month, when Apple and Starbucks unveiled their “Now Playing” service—which lets iPhone- and laptop-wielding Starbucks customers wirelessly purchase whatever song happens to be playing in the coffee shop via iTunes—Wade vented his venti frustration over the fact that Boston was not among the first cities slated to receive the service. At the time, Wade rightfully pointed out that Boston is home not only to scores of great bands but also to countless legions of caffeine-addicted, music-seeking, iPhone-toting early adopters. And yesterday, perhaps in a subconscious attempt to further the argument, he profiled more than a dozen Boston-area companies whose businesses somehow combine music and technology.

So with Wade on a well-deserved vacation, I can’t quite work out how I feel about today’s news that Starbucks has tapped Cambridge, MA’s Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) as the exclusive U.S. content-distribution provider for Now Playing. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a local firm get a slice of the pie: the plan is to use Akamai-enabled servers located within participating Starbucks stores to shuttle songs between the iTunes store and users’ wireless devices. “By serving content from within the Starbucks local area network, last mile access has been reduced to a few feet, dramatically improving end user performance, and eliminating the expense and time-to-market of having to increase connectivity in each store location,” according to the press release.

That’s nice and all, but take a gander at the list of cities for the “second phase” roll-out of the service, which will be completed in a few weeks. Still no Boston, no Cambridge. Come on, people—there have to be at least three Starbucks within walking (and server-schlepping) distance of Akamai’s headquarters. I’ve got a hand truck, if anybody wants to borrow it.

I think, in the end, I’m going to have to go with snub.

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