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Apple Ruins Big Beatles Announcement, Loads Albums on iTunes Early

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"Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget," promises a dramatic note posted on Apple's website yesterday. "Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes." The note is accompanied by clocks indicating specific times for the big news: in New York's time zone, it's 10 a.m.

Well, at 9:15 a.m. Eastern this morning, the Amplifier noticed something: typing "Beatles" into the iTunes store kind of gives away the big surprise. Apple (accidentally?) pre-loaded the long-awaited Fab Four catalog into the iTunes store early, confirming what must be the most overdue news in digital music history: The Beatles, their record label Apple Corps and its parent company EMI have finally decided to embrace the MP3 era by allowing the Fab Four's remastered catalog to be sold as downloads on iTunes. Questions about whether the band's music would be sold as individual tracks or only as full albums seem to have been answered, too: We see all the Beatles tracks available for $1.29 apiece. Full albums are $12.99; double disc are priced at $19.99.

[Photos: Vintage Beatles moments]

All of the band's studio albums are available, along with the Red and Blue Greatest Hits sets. The full catalog is up for sale for a reasonable $149. You can watch the band's first-ever U.S. show, the 1964 Washington Coliseum concert, on iTunes, and it comes as a free download with purchase of the $149 set.

While the premature reveal doesn't seem like that big a deal -- one could argue that the Beatles' arrival on iTunes was already about five years too late, and the Wall Street Journal and other publications leaked the details of the news last night -- the mistake on Apple's end likely infuriated CEO Steve Jobs, who keeps tight control on when and how Apple initiatives are announced to the public. Jobs, who has been chasing the Beatles catalog for years, has been embarrassed by a string of recent Apple and iTunes-related gaffes. In April, Apple's biggest product of the year, the iPhone 4, was exposed well before its official summer reveal because an Apple employee accidentally left a prototype of the phone at a California bar. Jobs was also left red-faced after iPhone 4 users began complaining that holding the device on the lower left-hand corner resulted in antenna interference and dropped calls.

[Related: Top 10 songs on iTunes]

iTunes hasn't been immune to errors either: In 2008, the digital music service was single-handedly responsible for leaking the Raconteurs' album "Consolers of the Lonely" by posting it for sale early. The mistake was especially visible because Jack White's band tried to release the record as a surprise -- announcing its existence just one week before its release date in an attempt to avoid the dreaded premature album leak. A similar situation arose last year when the Norway branch of iTunes allowed downloads of Kelly Clarkson's "All I Ever Wanted" a week before its release date, resulting in the illegal distribution of the album stateside.

 

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