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The downloading of music at Starbucks was tested last year in a few markets. That was with T-Mobile. Then the music stopped. Market expansion stopped.

Now the rumor making the rounds is that iPhone customers can get online for free at AT&T Hotspots which will include Starbucks by year's end.

So let's connect the dots.

1. Apple iTunes is the platform

2. AT&T is the carrier

3. Yahoo is the ad sales agent

Yahoo and Apple are not even close to ever mentioned in the same breath. AT&T is partners for on ramp with Yahoo, though that relationship is always described as tenuous at best. But back to this model.

Yahoo has Yahoo Music, but you don't see that being the platform (or at least not yet.) Why was that not part of the deal? Simple. AT&T is making more money via Apple long term with the iPhone, so now you add in downloads and a cut of the action, with Yahoo doing what they do better than Apple or AT&T. Sell ads.

So, imagine free music downloads, ad supported, no cost to access, but you need to be an AT&T customer with your iPhone or iPod.

Sell more ads. Sell more coffee. Sell more iPhones.

Game. Set. Match.

P.S. Who is left out of the deal? Microsoft.


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