Quick Take: Free Apple Slices at Starbucks

Two market leaders that never need to give anything away are giving something away.

To launch next week's iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at select Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) locations, the bean-brewing giant is teaming up with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) to give away as many as 50 million free digitally downloaded songs on iTunes.

Sure, that's just half of the 100 million iTunes tracks that Apple gave away through PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) four years ago. But Apple's digital store was still in diapers then.

What gets me here is that this nationwide promotion is being done to promote a service -- called Now Playing -- that will be available in only Seattle and New York City. It will take months -- if not longer -- before your local java chain is set up for the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store.

Oh, it's certainly cool. If you own an iPhone or the new iPod touch, when you walk into a participating Starbucks store, you'll have the ability to purchase the song that is playing inside. Starbucks takes its music almost as seriously as its brews, with hit CDs, Hear Music lounges, and its own radio station on XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR  ) .

It will still be able to percolate a little musical-influence muscle here, giving away 1.5 million digtal copies of a "song of the day" every day. You don't have to drive to Seattle or Manhattan to redeem the freebie. Still, wouldn't this promo have been better if it was timed to occur when all the Starbucks stores were running with the program?

For most java sippers outside of those two key markets, their neglected local Starbucks may not seem as cool anymore.

Jam to this Foolishness:


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