A Geek's Review of the Starbucks iPhone App
The latest Starbucks apps for the iPhone is generating interesting comments on several different fronts. It seems as if there will always be innovators and early adopters trying out new technology when it comes along, even if it doesn't provide immediate benefits, in the hopes of some future benefit. There will also always be laggards and late adopters criticizing them.
I do not have an iPhone. It is too closed of a platform for me. I still use a fairly old rather dumb mobile phone. However, I have changed my habits even as a result of this older mobile phone. I take pictures and videos from my phone and send them off to sites like Flickr, Facebook and YouTube and I send text messages to many different systems.
So, when people ask, "Why not just use a card?" in response to the latest iPhone Starbucks app, I have to ask, why not just use a human teller instead of one of those new fangled ATMs?
People have complained that the new app is cumbersome. Yes, technology innovations are often cumbersome when they first come out. They often end up serving different purposes than they were initially designed for or what some of the laggards think they are for. As an example, a person on a financial technology community website did ask “why not just use a card”, thinking that the iPhone App is primarily about payment systems. Yet on marketing websites are wondering about how well this promotes Starbuck’s brand.
As a technologist, I find a few things interesting about the application. 2D code reports that it uses QR codes in an innovative way. It displays a QR code on the iPhone which can be scanned by a different device. Usually, I think of mobile devices as a QR code scanner instead of a QR code display device. It will be interesting to see who else comes up with interesting uses of mobile devices as QR code display devices.
The thing that I’m least interested in about the Starbuck’s app is that like the iPhone itself, it appears to be yet another closed system. If someone makes this more of an open micropayment type system, then I’m much more interested. If I could transfer money from my Starbuck’s account to a babysitter’s account, a pet walker’s account, the account of a blogger who wrote something brilliant, or any other person I might want to make a small payment to, then it becomes a much more interesting social application.
Right now, I’m not rushing out to get an iPhone, or another Grande Decaf Cappuccino, but I’m not going to bash the Starbuck’s iPhone app. Instead, I’ll sit back and watch to see who takes the innovation to the next level.
(Cross posted at DigidayDaily.)