Think Starbucks is Ditching Free iTunes Cards? Think Again

Starbucks announced a change to its iTunes Pick of the Week program on Tuesday that pushes customers to the company's mobile app for free downloads, which had some people thinking the cards they're used to seeing next to the cash register were going away, and soon. Turns out that's not the case, and what Starbucks is really doing is giving away even more free iTunes content every week.

The Pick of the Week program lets Starbucks customers get a free song, video, book, or app download every week by dropping in to one of the company's retail locations and picking up a printed card with a special redemption code. Starting this week, that changes -- but only sort of. Now, customers will always be able to download two free iTunes selections each week instead of just one.

Starbucks adds apps and more to its mobile app free download picksStarbucks adds apps and more to its mobile app free download picks

The confusion started when Starbucks' Chief Digital Officer told CNET that the free download offered though the company's mobile app was expanding to include more than just music and added, "This is another step in the direction that we're going to integrate more things into our mobile application."

CNET noted that Starbucks is kicking off the change by offering Angry Birds Star Wars as its first app download, which is a pretty great kick off choice.

The assumption many people jumped to was that this change was replacing the printed cards we've been seeing in Starbucks locations for the past few years, which is actually wrong. Instead, the change means customers can stop by Starbucks and pick up the card of the week, and they get a second free download through the Starbucks Mobile app, or by connecting to the in-store Wi-Fi network.

A Starbucks spokesperson told The Mac Observer, "Instead of one free iTunes download each week, Starbucks customers get two. One from the printed cards, and one from our mobile app."

Translation: You now get two free downloads from the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBookstore every week from Starbucks.

Starbucks has quietly offered two downloads each week off and on for several months, but now it's an official change to the program. That's good news for Starbucks customers since they get to more free content each week, and it's a smart move for the mega coffee chain since it gives customers more incentive to come in. For developers, artists, and authors, it's great, too, because now there will be more opportunities for their content to get exposure.

If you can't get to a Starbucks each week you can still get a free download through the company's mobile app. A free in-app offering shows up in user's in-app Messages, and they can download it by opening the message and tapping the Download Now button.

Free is great when it comes to iTunes content, and when you have the chance to get more that's even better.