Starbucks – Compatibility matters


In a not such a far away galaxy, everyone in the interactive and web universe was obsessed with backwards compatibility and legacy browsers – namely IE 6 aka as the doomsday device.

ie6_tombstone-200x200Although development for legacy devices was a complicated and cumbersome task – mainly because of how buggy and unique those workarounds were, but in general, due to the requirement of a separate website – It had to be done, so a big chunk of the web audience could access your content (R.I.P. IE 6).
There is a lot to be said about comprehensive accessible content (the abandonment of flash as a safe reliable technology and many others) but in general, this golden rule should prevail over most of the work we do: Cutting edge technology doesn’t work for everyone.

As designers, reaching out to our audience should be our ultimate goal. Despite this, we encounter situations were segments of that audience’s accessibility is jeopardized by its current technology limitations. Due to this, our message might not reach its goal and, because of this, it will perish; marooning its longevity and the communication efforts.

Starbucks compatibility mattersStarbucks has been an innovator in many areas. From its failed purchase of Hear Music, to the addition of free content to its subscriber audience. Now, as you can see on the post’s picture above, the “Pick of the week” card relies on the Itunes universe platform to deliver this content to the user.
We can assume that, without providing an alternative way of access for Starbucks’s clients to its free audiovisual selected content, the company is only interested in half of the smartphone users in the US, and thus defining itself as a Iphone, Mac friendly store, while conscientiously ignoring the rest of the smartphone eco-system.

I doubt this is the case, but it’s the reality.

Android users represent about 76 million unique smartphones in the United States alone against 63 million iphone users . Both numbers represent the overall spectrum of the smartphone US universe for 2014, according to Statista website.

Still, Android represent over half of all smartphone users…

As a declared Android user, and as an occasional Starbucks coffee drinker, the lack of alternatives represent a disconnect between what the offer is trying to accomplish and what’s really out there on more than half people’s purses and pockets.
Heck, I’d love to discover their new recommendations by simply scanning a QR code on my device. Unfortunately this is not possible since Itunes doesn’t exist on the Android system.
We are not talking about legacy here, only parallel universes under the same set of rules.

Accessibility can make it happen.

Not until 1990’s Americans with Disabilities Act that the United States adopted a proper framework for millions of disabled individuals. It’s strange that such a basic, no brainier legislation took so long to exist.
Among many things, It provided the necessary muscle for the public and private spaces to comply with standardized accessibility installations for all disabled individuals, making access as consistent as Starbuck’s coffee across the country.

Any private company that is trying to connect with its users while providing them with content and services, should adjust to what they can access and how are able to do it.