Could Google's confirmation that it's providing hot spots prove a boon to meatspace small-business owners? Perhaps, if Google follows its Ad Sense pattern of cutting others in on revenue to build volume. If Google, strategically, is in the business of building mass segmentable audiences to which it can serve ads at low cost, then it will likely need small businesses that gather people who use their laptops, businesses such as cafes and bookstores, to help get that mass audience to which it can serve ads at its Wi-Fi hot spots.
True, a small retail-oriented business can set up its own Wi-Fi hot spot, but if you're selling cake, coffee, and a place for a little reading or discussion, you may not be, nor want to be, in the business of mastering technology for the masses, as well. Rather than have to learn the technology and pay for the hot spot to attract customers, why not let the technologists handle it and, meanwhile, take a cut of the revenue rather than incur costs? (I frequent Starbucks mainly for the reliable Wi-Fi service everywhere in the United States and pay another $19 per month for T-Mobile HotSpot service but would gladly use a free service, if it were as available and performed as well.)
One downside: According to the story "customers would be required to load a copy of Cisco's secure network software and Google's 'toolbar' program on their laptops." We haven't yet confirmed what incentives the cafes are receiving from Google to test the Wi-Fi service, if any.