My Coffee Card (aka I knew I was on to something)

Drama ensues: My Starbucks Card application was suddenly absent on my Android phone.

A few months back, I was cheering the application that enabled me to pay for my Starbucks drink (of which, I order many) with my Android phone instead of my Starbucks Card. Not that my life depended on this, of course .. even I can do without caffeine. But .. still fun .. a bit of a cool factor .. and many baristas approved (there were cheers in the Kirkland Parkplace Starbucks .. I’m serious).

So, imagine my surprise while ordering my signature: triple-tall, vanilla soy latte (remind me to post the Haiku for same on this new blog) .. I couldn’t find the application on my phone. Embarrassed? A little .. but I still had my card, so I wasn’t carted off to the Starbucks prison.

The Internet rumor: Starbucks / My Coffee Card application developer (Birbeck) was served a cease-and-desist order for offering the widget. May be a rumor, but the foundation is based in the fact that an international corporation will try to protect their brand for an application that:

  • Displays a bar code to be scanned by the Starbucks POS system.
  • Presents current card balance and purchase history.
  • Presents “stars” balance (when you get 15 stars, you get a snail mail card for a free drink . Starbucks: this sucks, btw .. the free drink should be credited to the account to ensure the bonus is not lost).
  • Locates the closest Starbucks on Google Maps) .. including directions from my current location, courtesy of the GPS on my phone.

To me (as an end user) .. EVERYTHING above is goodness. So: Why would Starbucks object? Why did my “Starbucks Card” application disappear? Well:

  • Alphabetization. The word ‘My’ comes before ‘Starbucks’. I wasn’t looking for ‘my’ after the most recent application update.
  • Branding. Not the fun hot-iron-on-your-arm kind of stuff. Instead it’s the icky legal-that-lands-you-in-court stuff. You know court: horrible rooms with wooden benches where you get to listen to old white men drone on and on (no, no: not church).
  • Liability: Starbucks doesn’t want to be responsible for an application that has access to personal and financial data .. they might consider it if they owned the application, but common sense dictates the company protect itself for assets it doesn’t own.

So .. hardly a mystery, but great fun to research and collect content.

Oh: the new logo is kind cool (and may be the next thing for which Birbeck receives mail).

Plug: get the My Coffee Card Pro application for your Android .. only $1.99 (support your developer) from the Android Market.

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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

One Response to My Coffee Card (aka I knew I was on to something)

  1. very cool … must grab this app.

    totally agree about the stupid card thing after 15 drinks. I keep forgetting to carry them with me. Crediting it to the account and either using it automatically (make the barista the hero) or letting me choose when to use it (again, the barista becomes the hero) when I swipe my card / scan the app barcode

    would be really good if drive-thru could use this at order point rather than the window… would (potentially) speed things up (or result in a pile of dropped and broken phones!)

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