Apple sets iTunes announcement, Beatles may surface

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple signaled it would make a major announcement about iTunes Tuesday, touching off speculation about everything from a Web-streaming music service to the long-awaited arrival of the Beatles catalog.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 9:23 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:45 AM

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Apple is indeed finally bringing the music of the Fab Four to iTunes. EMI, the Beatles’ record label, did not respond to a request for comment.

On Monday, Apple gave over the entire front page of its website to tease an announcement scheduled for 10 a.m. EST Tuesday, but gave few decipherable clues.

“Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget,” the message read.

The notice triggered debate among analysts and bloggers about what Apple might announce for iTunes, the world’s No. 1 music retailer. It has been rumored for months that Apple will launch a “cloud” — or Web-based — version of iTunes. Such a service would allow users to stream content over a network onto various devices.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment further. Tuesday’s iTunes announcement will be made online, which only added to the mystery.

The Beatles — arguably the most famous rock band of all time — have been the most prominent hold-out from the iTunes Store. Rumors about an agreement with Apple have circulated for years, but Apple may have finally sealed the deal.

The iTunes Store has helped redefine music retailing since its launch in 2003. More than 10 billion songs have been downloaded from iTunes, which features a music catalog of more than 12 million titles. Apple has also branched into selling and renting movies and TV shows.

Cloud iTunes still to come?

Analysts said a streaming version of iTunes is in the offing at some point, but said it is not clear Apple has yet reached the necessary deals with record labels, with whom the company has repeatedly clashed over the years.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about, with the cloud. I’m not sure if that’s ready. It’s really more around partnerships, content partnerships, before they can announce anything,” said Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu.

A cloud-based offering would represent a departure from the current iTunes service. Rather than storing downloaded music locally on computers, users’ content would be housed remotely on Apple’s servers, meaning they can theoretically be accessed and played from an Internet-connected device.

There are plenty of hints Apple is moving toward some sort of Web-based iTunes. In December 2009, Apple acquired streaming music service LaLa.

In addition, the company is spending $1 billion to build a massive data center in North Carolina and expects to begin using it by the end of the year.

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