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Monday October 1, 2007 1:43 pm

The Starbucks iTunes WiFi music store reviewed


iTunes Starbucks Music Store

As promised and Starbucks started their rollout of the Starbucks WiFi Music Store in select cities. Gear Live is lucky enough to be in Seattle, the first city to get the special version of the iTunes Music Store in our Starbucks. The service allows laptops, iPhones, and the iPod Touch users to connect for free to the iTunes store while sipping lattes without having to pay for for a T-Mobile Hotspot account. Click through for our full impressions on Apple’s new partnership with the coffee mega-store Starbucks.


iTunes Starbucks

Upon flipping open a laptop and firing up iTunes while in a Starbucks you are automatically connected to the Starbucks WiFi Music Store. The green-themed Starbucks store allows full access to the entire iTunes store, with extra Starbucks branded content. For information about the generic iTunes WiFi Music Store check out our in-depth review. New features in the Starbucks version include a section dedicated to music sold in Starbucks retail locations, and a slick view of what track is playing now at the Starbucks you are currently sipping coffee in.

iTunes starbucks

The now playing view looks similar to a typical album view on the iTunes store, but shows instead the 10 most recently played tracks for the store you are in. Buying a track is a single click away - it makes it easy to take the songs you like out of the store with you.

Didn’t bring your laptop to the Starbucks? No problem - the iPhone and the iPod Touch work great with the Starbucks WiFi music store as well. Just like with the laptop variant the WiFi store has full access to the 6 million track iTunes library as well as the Starbucks special content.

itunes starbucks

When tapping the WiFi music store icon the store comes up as it usually would, but with an extra icon - the Starbucks logo - in the lower-left side of the user interface. Clicking this icon shows content featured at Starbucks retail locations as well as the view for what’s played recently. Again a single click (and your password if you have restarted your iPhone since you last purchased songs) starts the download. The fast T-Mobile Hotspots WiFi access speeds downloads to you quickly. In a couple of tests most tracks took 15-30 seconds to download to our library, ready for listening and syncing back to iTunes.

itunes starbucks

This proof of concept deployment at has a promising future. As of October 1st all the Starbucks in Seattle feature the service, with New York lighting up their side of things tomorrow. Starbucks and Apple have promised to roll out the service nationwide within the year. While iTunes prepares to battle AmazonMP3 this kind of slick user experience might help keep the ball in Apple’s court.

Hopefully this kind of mini-store partnership won’t be limited to Starbucks and we will see many more partnerships in the near future. Having the feature available at concerts could be a huge win for Apple, music venues, and artists alike. Imagine seeing your favorite band perform a concert, and whipping out an iPhone to buy their albums or even songs from the live performance before heading home - the era of location-based e-commerce is close at hand.

Sparky

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Comments:

Emil - good question! Sadly you do need to associate your laptop or iPhone to the TMOBILE SSID, so you would have the problem listed in your blog entry. I found it’s easy enough to connect to the access point, then turn of WiFi after I’m done downloading the track to force my iPhone to use EDGE for other data connections.

You are right - not a perfect solution, but a lot closer than the Zune gets you.


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