Starbucks shuts down its Hear Music kiosks
UPDATED (May 26, 2006) | The Seattle Times is reporting Starbucks “has pulled them [CD-burning kiosks] out of all but five locations in each city and will not install them in future coffee stores.”
According to this Austin American-Statesman article (reg. req’d), Starbucks has decided to pull its CD-burning kiosks from its Austin and Seattle stores. Can’t say I’m surprised. Living in Austin and frequenting Starbucks a couple times per week, I’ve NEVER seen anyone actually burn a CD using the kiosk. Seen lots of college kids curled up reading a textbook while listening to tunes from the kiosk though.
In an email exchange with the Statesman reporter, I shared the following thoughts about why the Hear Music Media Bars weren’t working out as planned:
Starbucks failed to solve a consumer problem with their CD-burning stations like they solved the problem of weak, flavorless coffee. Before Starbucks, coffee was a hot, brown liquid meant to be a caffeine delivery vehicle more than a drink that actually tasted good. Starbucks changed all that. Thanks to Starbucks, it is far easier for us to find better tasting coffee that is meant to be enjoyed more than just endured.
Starbucks has been successful because it made the coffee experience uncommonly better. So uncommonly better that we gladly pay a premium for it. Using that mindset, the Starbucks CD-burning stations have been unsuccessful because they failed to make the music download experience uncommonly better. It’s far easier for us to download music using our own computers than it is using the Starbucks CD-burning kiosk.
This CD-burning venture was doomed to fail from the start. Launching the service without the ability for customers to download music directly to their mp3 player was a major misstep. Starbucks may have attained success if they launched the service with mp3 downloads directly to a customer’s mp3 player. As a Starbucks consumer, I would be more apt to enjoy a latte while using their wi-fi service to download music from iTunes directly to my laptop than to sit down at the Hear Music kiosk, navigate through the clunky interface, and burn a music CD.