HP has joined forces with Starbucks to offer customers the chance to order music tracks with their coffee.
Customers will be provided with headphones, an HP tablet computer, and up to 250,000 songs to listen to while drinking their cappuccino. If they want to buy a track they can have it burned on to a CD.
Business Week suggests Starbucks will ultimately offer wireless downloads to laptops or portable players.
It is expected that the service will be provided over the store's wireless network, courtesy of T-Mobile. This suggests that iTunes will not be providing the tracks – despite HP's recent agreement to support Apple's iTunes Music Store by installing the software on its computers.
Speaking to Business Week, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said: "The service will expand into 2,500 stores over the next two years. This is not a test. We're going for it. We have a unique opportunity to leverage the trust people have in the brand. The artists don't want to go to Wal-Mart."
Starbucks vice-president for music and entertainment Don MacKinnon said: "In the time it takes you to order a latte, you could have any CD burned on demand for you. That's truly transformative and unlocks for so many people a need that's not being served – making it easier to learn about music, easier to get it, and easier to create your own compilations.''
Record companies agree. Concord Records joint owner Hal Gaba said: "There is no question in our minds that this is the future of music distribution. It's a significant enhancement of the iTunes experience."
But analysts are less certain. Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff said: "Your typical barista may be great at making espresso but is not in a position to fix the broken CD burner. And how do you find what you are looking for when faced with 250,000 tracks?''
The in-store music service is expected to launch on March 16.