Updated from 10:01 am EST, to include comment from a Starbucks spokeswoman.
The Seattle-based coffee chain announced as part of its investor day yesterday it updated its mobile app for the Apple (AAPL) iPhone. Among other changes, the new version of the app allowed customers the option to tip their barista. Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman had written in a blog post last week that the new app would be available on March 19. Yet, as of 9:45 a.m. EST on March 20, the new app still wasn't available - and customers are cranky.
"To prepare for this update, make sure you know your account password and set a reminder to download or update the new Starbucks for iPhone app on March 19," Brotman wrote.
Taking to social media, customers on Starbucks' Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) pages are asking where the new app is. Starbucks' social media team has responded to a flurry of tweets, saying it would be available in the iTunes app store soon.
@niyavaughn :( really sorry about that. it should be in the app store soon. thanks for your patience.Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) March 20, 2014
Starbucks spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen told TheStreet on Thursday that the problem has actually to do with Apple iTunes, noting that its app delivery system is offline. She did not have a timeframe on when the system would be fixed. "Apple's iTunes delivery system for apps is currently offline causing the launch of our new Starbucks App for iPhone to be delayed," Jantzen writes in a follow-up email. "We're looking forward to sharing it with our customers and partners (employees) soon."
TheStreet put in a request with Apple to confirm the issue, but has not heard back yet.
Starbucks has been looking to up the mobile ante as part of its retail strategy.
In late January, the company announced Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz would cede his daily management duties to Troy Alstead, who was stepping into the role of COO. The move was to allow Schultz focus on "Starbucks mission, growth initiatives and the convergence and integration of our retail and e-commerce, digital, card and mobile assets around the world. There has never been a more exciting time to be a Starbucks partner," he said on Jan. 29.
Mobile payment represents 14% of all in-store transactions at U.S. Starbucks. More than 25% of all transactions are made by its loyalty members through My Starbucks Rewards, the company said in a press release on Wednesday.
The company now has more than 8 million My Starbucks Rewards members in North America, it also said. Globally, Starbucks Cards are available in more than 28 countries, and more than $18 billion has been loaded onto the card since the start of the program in 2001.
The idea for digital tipping is something that apparently customers have been asking for, Brotman wrote in March 12 blog post.
"This is a top idea you've shared with us. We agree," Brotman wrote. "The heart of Starbucks is our store partners, we appreciate the work they do every day and we want to make it possible for you to as well. What better way than by leaving a tip from your mobile device? Once you scan your card to pay, you will have the option to leave a tip."
Other new features in the app will include a "shake to pay" option, where customers, while in the app, can "shake your phone and your registered Starbucks Card will appear, ready to scan," the blog says.
The newest app version will also have easier access to a user's account information, it stated.
Starbucks is also looking into including digital receipts and transaction history features. Most importantly, a Google (GOOG) Android version is coming soon, the company said.
--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.