Apple, Starbucks Give Away Apps, E-Books

Apple, Starbucks Give Away Apps, E-Books

Apple and Starbucks will give away free apps, e-book samples and TV shows, in a move that may stimulate other digital content divisions of the iTunes business.

The Seattle-based coffee retailer’s free “pick of the week” program will offer an extended chapter from Erin Morgenstern’s book “The Night Circus,” the first e-book giveaway of the promotion. Last month, Starbucks also gave away paid iPhone app Shazam Encore.

The expansion may soon extend to TV shows as well.

The partnership between Starbucks and Apple — one of iTunes’ long-running promotions — already offers free music downloads from Apple’s iTunes store. But including apps, e-books and TV will highlight other aspects of iTunes’ digital content business, particularly iBookstore.

The move to bring e-books into the promotion may stimulate iBookstore sales, especially as the iPad continues to compete against Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader. Magazines are flourishing on the iPad, but Amazon and Barnes & Noble still dominate e-book sales.

The Starbucks promotion may expand iBookstore’s customer base and stimulate book sales, especially for high-profile releases like Morgenstern’s, which generated strong interest among publishers.

Apple needs no such boost for its App Store, which attracts high sales and download numbers. Developers already earned more than $2.5 billion through the App Store since its launch.

Promoting apps at a high-traffic retailer like Starbucks will keep the amount of iOS app users high, even as other platforms’ app stores grow, and spotlighted apps will be sure to benefit from the attention.

TV shows’ inclusion in the giveaways will also boost an emerging part of the iTunes store. Apple scuttled TV show rentals on iTunes in August, after customers indicated strong preferences to buy episodes.

But the service still falls behind competitors like Hulu, which offers subscription access to whole seasons of current TV shows. A move to offer free TV downloads, however, may expand the iTunes audience for this content.

Some analysts believe Apple is working hard behind the scenes on a monthly video service to compete more directly with Netflix and Hulu, which have strong customer bases. Free TV giveaways through Starbucks may grow that base while Apple negotiates the service, beefing up its audience before it is unveiled.

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