Thanks to a new aspect of the ongoing partnership between Apple (s aapl) and Starbucks(s sbux), you can now get paid apps free at the coffee chain via physical cards with redeemable codes printed on them. The arrangement resembles Starbucks’ Pick of the Week music arrangement, which lets customers grab iTunes tracks using either a plastic card or Starbucks’ in-store Wi-Fi.
The first paid app on offer from Starbucks is Shazam Encore (via CNET), which lets you tag any music you hear with your iPhone, for identification, information or sharing purposes. Shazam Encore normally retails for $5.99 in the App Store, so it’s actually a pretty good deal. No word on whether or not this will become a regular occurrence, but the design of the card seems to suggest that it’s set up to be the first of a series.
This is a great way for Apple to get paid iOS software in the hands of customers who only download free titles or who don’t really use the App Store or third-party applications. The numbers indicate that free apps still get the lion’s share of downloads on the App Store, especially among top-ranked titles. Providing users with a way to check out paid apps without spending any money could encourage them to start buying other titles if they come away suitably impressed. That is, if Apple can keep the cards in sufficient supply. They always seem to be out of stock at my local store.
Free featured apps also gives the App Store another tool in the fight with other mobile software retailers like the Android Market (s goog) and Amazon Appstore(s amzn). Amazon also gives away a free app on a daily basis. That arrangement hasn’t proved to be too beneficial to developers, however. It isn’t clear exactly how the revenue picture works out in this case.
Of course, this might also inspire folks to switch coffee allegiances. Anyone planning to get their next caffeine fix at Starbucks in order to take advantage of this deal?