Until I read this article, I had no idea one couldn't download Beatles songs from iTunes. This is something I, as a Beatles fan, consider a major flaw.
This morning, however, Fortune reported that Apple Computer, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes could be closing a deal soon to bring Beatles songs to its service. While other online music stores such as Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN and Rhapsody have tried to negotiate a deal with the Beatles for years, it seems that Apple is about to close one -- with exclusivity, no less. According to Apple's spokesperson, however, this is still in the realm of rumors and he therefore refused to comment.
Music labels haven't been extremely happy with Apple, a fact that was made painfully clear when Universal Music Group signed a deal with Microsoft [subscription required] in which Microsoft offered it a cut from every Zune sale. So for Britain's EMI Group to act as the intermediary between Steve Jobs (who is said to be personally involved in this) and Neil Aspinall, the guardian of the Beatles' business interests, would be a monumental task. One of the sticky issues, by the way, is the length of exclusivity.
I don't have statistics on the age of iTunes users and the age of Beatles fans and listeners, but I think I would be safe to say that they may be at different stages in life to put it mildly. Still, Beatles albums, old and new remakes like the recent "Love" release from EMI have been great sellers.
Now we just have to wait and see if the Beatles follow U2 and support the iPod. While the band refused in the past to endorse certain products, the iPod may not be among them; if they support the iPod, it would be huge. Either way, this deal, if it ever closes (after smoothing out all the legal problems with Apple Corp.), is huge!