How Starbucks gave iPhone a mullet

The iPhone has been drifting more and more into the business world since it was first released as the “cool kid’s phone” complete with slick features but no real substance. Where the first generation phone sported no teeth in the way of actually being useful to the corporate world, today’s third generation is a much matured model with Exchange, over-air sync, push notifications and, yes, copy and paste. Finally, BlackBerry users are beginning to find real reasons to make the switch aside from just looking cool.

But now Starbucks is taking the iPhone to a new business level: e-commerce. Yesterday, the coffee giant released its first two second and third apps for the iPhone, including one that allows Starbucks gift card users to track and reload their cards on the go. The other allows users to locate a nearby Starbucks location and create custom drinks for themselves or assign them to contacts stored in their phone. The app will also make recommendations based on flavor preferences.

These might not sound like big deals, but that’s not what’s motivating me to write. Amazon, Chipotle and Target are among a slew of companies who have already made significant e-commerce apps for the iPhone, so this sounds like nothing new.

What’s exciting to me is a new feature Starbucks is testing that allows users to create their drink, which pulls up a bar code that can be scanned right at the register.

That’s right. No more repeating your crazy concoction and strange preferences. No longer will black coffee-drinking guys have to awkwardly call out their wife’s girly beverage. It’s your way, right away but silently.

The new feature is being tested in 16 stores up and down the West Coast, but Starbucks hopes to roll it out nationwide in the future. If it works out, this could be an exciting new way for consumers to shop, bridging online purchases in a brick and mortar environment.This is a boost for Starbucks, but also a major lift for Apple whether they know it or not.

The only problem iPhone faces now is what to do with its new haircut. The phone’s always had a party-boy’s long hair style, but now it’s trimming the front as it matures into a useful, business friendly tool for businesses and consumers alike.

That’s a mullet if I’ve ever seen one.

✏️ Handwritten by Geoff Graham on September 24, 2009

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