Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starbucks Unveils Its First iPhone Apps

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Starbucks Unveils Its First iPhone Apps
By Andrew LaVallee

Starbucks is launching a store-finding and menu-information application for the iPhone, and is testing a second app that will let customers use the phone as their Starbucks card.
The two apps are the coffee chain’s first for the iPhone and iPod touch. It has previously offered mobile services, such as the ability to send a text message to locate a nearby store, and has worked with Apple to make in-store songs available through iTunes.

The apps resulted from customer feedback it received via social-networking sites and My Starbucks Idea, the online community it launched last year, said Stephen Gillett, its chief information officer. “We think it’s really talking to our customers in new ways.”

Starbucks will be competing with several unofficial iPhone apps, such as iApp’s Find a Starbucks Coffee, Snow Storm’s Expresso Pro and ourLivez’s Sbux Card, and tech blogs have pitched concepts of what a Starbucks iPhone app might look like for a while now.

The first app, myStarbucks, lets customers locate stores and bookmark favorite locations. They can search by additional information, such as hours and amenities, to find, for example, a nearby one that’s open and has a drive-thru window. It also includes a menu and nutritional information for Starbucks’s drinks, food and coffee beans, and a “drink builder” that displays nutritional information based on the selections.

The second app is being tested in 16 stores in Seattle and the Bay Area — due to the high usage rates of both Starbucks cards and Apple products in those regions, a Starbucks spokeswoman said. It lets users check their card balance and transfer more money to it. It also displays a scannable bar code on the cellphone screen, allowing it to be used to pay for purchases, like a Starbucks card, at those stores.

Starbucks will gauge customer feedback during the trial and then decide whether to extend it to other markets, Mr. Gillett said. Both apps are free and don’t contain ads, and there are no plans to charge for them, he added.


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