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Originally published Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Looking for Starbucks? Just send a text message

Starbucks fields thousands of calls each year from customers phoning from the road to find the nearest Starbucks store. Beginning today, customers with...

Seattle Times business reporter

Starbucks fields thousands of calls each year from customers phoning from the road to find the nearest Starbucks store.

Beginning today, customers with cellphones and mobile devices can save themselves the call.

Cellphone users can send a text message with the area's zip code to MYSBUX, and a list of nearby Starbucks stores will pop back. Customers using mobile devices will find a store locator by typing www.starbucks.com.

The stores can now be found through electronic map finders.

But Starbucks might be the first company to use its own so-called "short code" to allow mobile users to find its stores.

"It's an obvious thing to do, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see more," said Julie Ask, a wireless analyst for Jupiter Research in San Francisco.

It's ironic that Starbucks would be the first, she noted, because there's a joke in the mobile marketing community that says eventually every person with a mobile device will get pinged with an offer every time they walk by a Starbucks.

"It's not going to happen, because that would be annoying," she said.

Starbucks says it will not capture customers' cellphone numbers or offer incentives to use the new feature. Last year, the company sent $5 gift cards to customers who played a text-messaging quiz game that was hard to lose.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times technology reporter Tricia Duryee contributed to this report.

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