Starbucks is now offering free iPhone app downloads to customers who purchase a cup of coffee or other product at coffee shop locations.

Starbucks has often been a vanguard when it comes to digital media promotions for its brand and products. It was already an Apple business partner, too; it previously offered free iTunes music downloads to customers.

The first app offered is Shazam Encore, which identifies songs by listening for a few seconds, then offers options for purchasing digital downloads of the songs from various online store partners. The app normally costs $5.99 to download. Starbucks consumers receive a card with a digital download code that they can type into their iPhones to get it for free instead.

These promo codes are nothing new; app-makers use them for gifts, review copies for journalists, and other functions, but using them as a promotion at a storefront is a new phenomenon as far as we know. It’s a technique worth watching and trying; mobile apps are a part of your customers’ every day lives, so offering free ones is a strong incentive to show up or even to check in on Foursquare or Gowalla.

[Via: CNET, Image credit: Marco Paköeningrat]