Apps-Driven: Starbucks redefines the apps store with free apps, in their store

This blog has covered several recent apps-driven product announcements but today, Starbucks has redefined the meaning of “apps store” by making several “for-pay” applications available for free when using the Wifi network in their stores. It’s called the “Starbucks Digital Network.” The “free” apps include (normally $100/year); New York Times Reader 2.0 (normally requires a subscription); USA Today eEdition; Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, and Yahoo! Finance; iTunes with free picks-of-the-week downloads; the Bookish Reading club with new releases and preview chapters of upcoming books from Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Group (USA), Simon & Schuster, and other book publishers; content from Rodale publishing’s huge backlist of health-oriented articles, recipes, and videos from, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Prevention, Organic Gardening and Eat This, Not That!; Nick Jr. Boost, a service that streams full-length episodes of Dora the Explorer, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, and other kid shows (normally about $80/year); Zagat restaurant recommendations for local restaurants near the Starbucks you’re currently inhabiting; and The Weather Channel, so you no longer need to look outside to see if it’s raining.

Here’s a direct quote from the Starbucks announcement:



Launch week kicks off with a trio of exclusive offers on the Starbucks Digital Network’s Entertainment channel including free music tracks, a movie clip with charitable ties and a novel sneak preview. Straight from iTunes, customers get exclusive free access to two songs and a video from new band Fistful of Mercy featuring Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison.

Movie fans can enjoy a special clip from the Paramount Vantage film, “Waiting for ‘Superman’.” Every customer who buys a ticket for the film will receive a $15 credit to use in support of a classroom project in his or her community.

Rounding out the trio is an extensive excerpt from “Rescue”, the new upcoming novel by best-selling and acclaimed author of 10 New York Times bestsellers, Anita Shreve. Available from Hachette Book Group, only Starbucks Digital Network customers get an exclusive sneak peek of “Rescue” before it hits shelves on Nov. 30.


Why is Starbucks doing this? First, the company obviously thinks that the Starbucks Digital Network will further cement its stores as the “third place” that people go between home and work on a daily basis. They’ll sell more coffee that way. Second, as soon as people become accustomed to “free apps,” some of them start looking for more and are willing to pay to get it. So the Starbucks Digital Network has a revenue-enhancing upsell on the back end (as direct marketers are wont to say).

One of the premises of the EDA360 vision is that the consuming public is being retrained to make continuous small purchases in the form of apps. Hundreds of thousands of apps. Products are now being designed to cash in on this massive change in buying habits—and today, Starbucks has enhanced the experience in its stores to get beyond just the sale of a beverage.


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
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