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Starbucks serves up free iPhone apps

As part of its "Pick of the Week" promotional program, Starbucks is now offering paid applications for Apple's iPhone for free.

Starbucks now serving up free, paid applications as part of its "Pick of the Week" program.
Starbucks is now serving up paid applications for free as part of its "Pick of the Week" program.

The next time you go into a Starbucks for a drink or snack, you could end up walking out with a free iPhone app too.

Apple and Starbucks have long had a partnership that gives Starbucks customers a way to download free music tracks from Apple's iTunes Music Store, and the two companies are now coming together to do the same with paid applications.

Using the same "Pick of the Week" cards the two companies have been using since April 2008, Starbucks is now using that same system to dole out iPhone applications.

Just like for music, users can find free cards waiting for them at the cash register with codes on the back that can be entered into iTunes or the App Store to get the application.

The first application to be offered for free is Shazam Encore (iTunes), a music-identifying app that sells for $5.99 in the U.S. version of the App Store. That's a considerable deal compared to new music tracks, which typically top out at $1.29.

Starbucks declined to comment on the addition of apps, including whether this takes the place of or simply joins music tracks as part of the Pick of the Week program. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shazam and Starbucks were recently involved together as part of SRCH, Starbucks' digital scavenger hunt, which had people using Shazam's application to identify Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" track with their phones.

The relationship between Apple and Starbucks dates back to 2007 with a deal that had Apple offering a special Starbucks section of its iTunes Music Store, with Starbucks-curated music picks that would appear when iPhone or iPod Touch users were on the store's Wi-Fi network. Starbucks has since gone on to offer the Pick of the Week program, as well as developed a first-party application that lets users pay for drinks with their iOS device.