A couple of years ago, I made a comment to the effect of how I was unimpressed with Ajax, to the extent that I had been working with some of the technologies that helped spawn AJAX as early as 1998. In those days (1997-2001) I was jaded, because I worked for a company called Knowledge Strategies Group, and one of my key responsibilities was to live on the cutting edge of technology and how to apply it to both the emerging e-commerce world, but also finding synergies that would tie the e-commerce world to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. We had all kinds of crazy ideas - some which were ultimately realized, and some which were not, but the bottom line was that all of us working there, from the founders all the way down the totem pole, that it was only a matter of time before companies would create a viable business model to unite the two.
Fast forward 6 years later. I walked into Starbucks this morning, just like I do on many other occasions, but something was very different today. With my overpriced cup of coffee, I also received a little card. The card was good for a download on iTunes. Apparently as part of the new deal between Starbucks and Apple, each purchase at Starbucks will come with a free download from now until November. In addition, Starbucks is opening up its wireless access points to offer free access to the iTunes music store for Computers as well as the iPod Touch and iPhone. The premise of course is to use in-store displays to drive traffic and sales to iTunes. Starbucks has been selling music for quite some time, but can now do so with less production costs, and better support. In fact, I also noticed today that the in-store CD's that Starbucks has been selling for years, have now been replaced with cards to redeem those albums online. Yes, this is reflective of the paradigm shift in music listening patterns, but still, it is an amazing extension of the retail store to the online world, and a brand-booster for both Apple and Starbucks!
What's even more interesting, it seems that the service offered is location-aware too! In the sense that you can see what song is currently playing in-store, and/or purchase recently played songs using iTunes.
I hope that this program proves successful, as I know that it will be the first of many similar ventures coming our way.