Starbucks this week is expanding its Pick of the Week Program to add applications, TV shows and "extended" samples of books through Apple's iTunes Music and App Stores. The program previously included only free music tracks.
CNET was first to report about the expansion of the program last week, the first part of which is with $5.99 music identification app Shazam Encore. Starbucks will be stocking that freebie in its stores beginning tomorrow, followed the week after by Firemint's Spy Mouse game.
Besides apps, one of the most interesting additions to the program is books, which are being offered through Apple's iBookstore. Unlike free music, apps, and TV shows, users are not getting a full copy of that digital content; instead, it's an extended preview.
"We're aware that our customers can get a free preview of a free book that comes with the digital edition of the book typically, so we need to make sure that the offering in terms of an extended preview is substantial, and therefore valuable," said Adam Brotman, senior vice president and general manager of Digital Ventures at Starbucks in an interview with CNET. "We've been working hard with Apple to make sure it's a substantial expanded preview."
Brotman said that works out to be about three times as long as a typical preview customers would get for free from Apple, depending on the book and the publisher.
As for the curation aspect, or how the content is chosen for promotion as part of the Starbucks Pick of the Week program, Brotman declined to go into details, other than noting selections were made as a collaboration between Starbucks and Apple.
"This is very similar to the Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo type of arrangement, where Starbucks is looking to curate things we think are great for our customers to see or discover in exchange for exposure," Brotman said.
Starbucks and Apple introduced the Pick of the Week program in April of 2008, and Starbucks currently stocks redemption cards at some 8,500 of its stores in the U.S. The company would not share numbers on how many free music tracks have been redeemed since then, except to say that the program itself has become increasingly popular.
"It's a lot of the reason we're expanding the program," Brotman said. "Our customers were telling us how much they loved it, and were asking us and hoping we could expand it as apps have become so popular, and reading has become as much digital as it's become physical."
Updated at 9:50 a.m. PT with additional information throughout.