Starbucks and Square want your phone to be your wallet

After years of fits and starts, the prospect of using your phone to make purchases instead of your credit and debit cards is entering a promising era. The struggle for who will control your virtual wallet is intensifying, and while it’s far from certain what will replace plastic, it’s almost certain something will, very soon.

This isn’t about a gimmicky new way to separate you from your money. It’s about replacing credit and debit cards, and all of their vulnerabilities, with your phone. That phone will be linked to those same cards (and bank accounts), potentially enabling you to pay as you go without toting around cards or cash, and even without taking anything out of your pocket.

Within this revolution, there are two different technologies hoping to become the default. This time, instead of Betamax and VHS, we have NFC (Near Field Communication) and GPS (the same kind you use to navigate a map).

NFC backers – and there are plenty of them – are pushing a technology that sends payment information using radio waves from one device to another. GPS’s contingent is led by Square, a startup founded by Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey, and uses the location-awareness functionality of smartphones to establish a connection between you and a vendor.

This week, Starbucks announced it was partnering with Square, the best evidence yet that GPS might have an edge over NFC. For Starbucks, a $25 million investment in Square is pocket change, but the deal also puts visionary CEO Howard Schultz on the startup’s board and “Pay with Square” in every Starbucks, (eventually) letting caffeine addicts pay for their latte fixes with little more than a smile.

Apple’s store of the future, just across the street from Store No. 1

By Mary Slosson

To the legions of Apple fans, any new store from the consumer electronics giant is cause for celebration. But the company’s latest, in Glendale California, is special for two reasons: it’s being touted as Apple Store 2.0, a model for others to come … and it happens to be just across the street from the very first outlet to carry the corporate logo.

Already inviting comparisons to Starbucks — notorious for opening outlets within a stone’s throw of each other — the latest addition the now-331-strong network drew hundreds of devotees to the Americana at Brand mall just north of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. 

Apple obliged with a DJ, dancing, and free gifts to the first 1,000 visitors (a t-shirt specific to the new mall location).

from Shop Talk:

Starbucks now most popular brand on Facebook

MARKETS-STOCKS/The popular social networking website has a new champion among its brands: Starbucks.

With a combination of recent social networking promotions and front-page ads, the Seattle-based mega coffee company has attracted more than 3.6 million fans to reportedly passed Coca-Cola to become the most popular brand on Facebook.

While that huge fan base makes Starbucks the No. 1 brand, statistics compiled by the website Inside Facebook showed Starbucks as the 8th most popular "page," behind Hollywood star Will Smith, President Barack Obama, and the current leader, Michael Jackson.

from Shop Talk:

Howard Schultz wakes up and smells the media

 Perhaps he woke up one day and smelled his own coffee shops struggling in the weak economy. So, schultz2Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz is waking up to a fresh brew by percolating new business in the media world.

Starbucks has become the official naming sponsor of CNBC's "Morning Joe" television show. The move is a throwback to the 1950s, when television programs were underwritten by manufacturers ranging from soap to cigarettes, and it comes as traditional advertising dollars are shrinking for publishers, television networks and other ad-reliant businesses. 

Schultz, who has made his own headlines over the years, also is an investor in, a celebrity news blog based in Los Angeles, through Maveron, a venture capital firm he co-founded with Dan Levitan.