A tale of two new Starbucks apps

Sep 28, 2009
Shine

Starbucks is the latest iconic brand to pour into the app space with the release of myStarbucks and Starbucks Card Mobile. Both apps are free, leaving consumers with some extra change to shell out for $4 Frappuccinos. It is fitting that the king of the on-the-go coffee industry is investing heavily in mobile marketing and […]

Starbucks is the latest iconic brand to pour into the app space with the release of myStarbucks and Starbucks Card Mobile. Both apps are free, leaving consumers with some extra change to shell out for $4 Frappuccinos.

It is fitting that the king of the on-the-go coffee industry is investing heavily in mobile marketing and commerce. Starbucks, like other Fortune 500 companies including Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America and Kraft Foods, recognizes the need to engage existing and prospective consumers through mobile apps. The trick with mobile media marketing is to develop properties that connect with consumers while not being overtly promotional in tone. In its debut, Starbucks has brewed a rather satisfying blend.

myStarbucks has all the fixings of a great app. A store locator feature helps you pinpoint all of the Starbucks stores within your vicinity. This comes in handy when you are late for work but can’t operate without a morning jolt of caffeine.      

The app also allows users to build drinks, starting with temperature (hot or cold), and record ingredients such as syrups and toppings, as well preparation details. This increases the chances of getting your beverage exactly how you want it. In addition, drink entries can be shared with friends or colleagues to better divide coffee run responsibilities.

Another cool feature of myStarbucks tracks how many calories are in your drink (you might decide to hold the whipped cream next time!). The app also includes a comprehensive listing of all coffee blends sold at its stores along with a brief description about their country of origin and other relevant information.

While myStarbucks is heavy on additives, Starbucks Card Mobile could become the straw that serves the drink as far as mobile commerce is concerned. The app works like a prepaid Starbucks card, except without the unnecessary plastic. Turn on Starbucks Card Mobile, and an electronic barcode will appear on the screen of your phone. The barrista simply scans the barcode, and you are on your merry way.

You may need to stand in line behind other test markets before using Starbucks Card Mobile, as the app is only available in select Northern California markets as well as Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle.  The company has not stated when or where it will expand the availability of the application.

Until then, stay tuned and happy sipping.

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Megan O'Neil

Megan O'Neil is a journalist and freelance writer in Los Angeles. When she isn't lounging at the beach or socializing in the Hollywood Hills, she writes for the Park Labrea New/Beverly Press newspaper and the Los Angeles Times Community News Group.

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