Starbucks Now Giving Away Digital Games and Books—And Doing It, For The First Time, Without A Card

Operating on the premise that if free downloaded songs will get shoppers into Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), then free apps, games and e-books should work even better, the coffee giant has expanded its free digital download offering. But much more interesting than adding other kinds of digital content to the chain's Pick Of The Week promotion is the fact that it is now going fully digital. Gone will the cards that coffee aficionados used to have to pick up at Starbucks.

As of Tuesday (April 9),  the mere act of accessing the store's Wi-Fi through the Starbucks mobile app will be sufficient proof that the customer showed up.

The first free download in the modified program is the game Angry Birds Star Wars, according to CNET. "This expansion, of adding apps and books, is the reflection of Starbucks and Apple working together to strengthen the relationship for customers," Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said, according to CNET. "This is another step in the direction that we're going to integrate more things into our mobile application."

Although Starbucks is getting appropriate kudos for its digital mobile moves—and it figuring out much earlier than most the emotional connection between music and coffee is a good example—it might want to focus a little bit more on SEO.

The first result in a Web search for "Starbucks Pick Of The Week" was the error page for when Pick Of The Week doesn't work. And it came up first in Google, Bing and Yahoo. (At least it's consistent.)  "We're Sorry. There seems to be an issue. It looks like you're having trouble downloading our free iTunes Pick of the Week." Not so sure how often that app glitches, but at least three out of three major browsers seems to think it happens often enough.

Update: The original idea behind the program was to give away iTunes cards, which had to be picked up at a Starbucks. The intent behind making it all digital is that requiring a connection to the store's Wi-Fi is perfectly good proof that the customer is in a store. It seems that Starbucks may need to work out the bugs for that, too. We just launched the Starbucks app--quite some distance from any Starbucks--and it downloaded Angry Birds and a song pick without difficulty. No store needed. Guess the technology required to only accept a download when connected to a store's Wi-Fi is perhaps trickier than first thought.

For more:

-Read the CNET story

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