Carrington, the Forrester analyst, cautions that Starbucks needs to pay close attention to potential pitfalls, from the technical glitches she says have prevented her from reloading her loyalty card with her phone to the privacy and security concerns that will inevitably be raised about the storage of credit card information. And Starbucks still faces the challenge of educating customers about this new payment option. "I wouldn't say they've saturated the market," she says.
Brotman says he hasn't heard complaints about the specific problem Carrington cited, but that the company is committed to addressing any issues that arise. He also notes that credit card data is not stored on users' phones, which helps safeguard it. Regarding outreach, he agrees that more needs to be done: "I think there's a lot of room for improvement in terms of awareness."
The company is a technology pioneer in other ways. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Starbucks uses cloud services to communicate with baristas about sales and daily deals. Starbucks also claims to be among the most-liked brands on Facebook, among the most-tweeted brands on Twitter, and the most popular retail destination for users of Foursquare, a site that allows people to share their locations.
Despite the company's success with mobile payments, Brotman says Starbucks is keeping an open mind. "We are frankly agnostic when it comes to the technology itself," he explains, noting that if something better comes along, the company would adopt it. "We realize mobile's always changing, and we're trying to stay ahead of the curve."