Starbucks considers licensing its mobile app
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Tech companies and national retailers have approached Starbucks about whether the coffee giant would consider licensing or white-labeling its successful mobile application, CEO Howard Schultz revealed during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.
Mr. Schultz reiterated the consideration last week to CNBC.
"I think you have to ask yourself, ‘Why are they asking us to do this?’" Mr. Schultz said during the earnings call. "We have such a significant lead. There isn’t a company that we can identify that is processing anything close to a million transactions a week, and we’re now way over five million. Most of the national retailers did not invest ahead of the growth curve. They do not have the capability in-house at this point to really execute this and to fully understand it.
"Tech companies themselves obviously have the tech background and the insight but they do not have the interface on the physical side with the consumer to execute it. So we are in a very unique position having kind of [seen] the chicken-and-egg problem of both, the digital technology and obviously the interface with the consumer."
Mr. Schultz added that Starbucks has not made any decisions on the offers.
"We have not made the decision as to what we will do, but I can share with you that we are actively pursuing a number of conversations because we … strongly believe that [having] one is a tidal wave of consumer adoption and smartphones and mobile commerce, and we are in the sweet spot of being in a position to take advantage of that in a very unique fashion," Mr. Schultz said during the call.
Should Starbucks license its mobile application to other retailers? What thought process should guide any decision by a technology first-mover to share technologies with potentially competing retailers?