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Will 09/09/09 be a spectacular last hurrah for the compact disc thanks to the crystalline rollout of the greatest body of music in the history of popular music, or will the big news of the day be the unveiling of a next-gen iPod touch preloaded with that same body of work?
09/09/09: A TALE OF TWO APPLES
Apple Corps Breaks Out the Beatles Remasters; What Apple Computer Will Break Out Is the Subject of Rampant Speculation
Since Apple circled Sept. 9 as the date of its next dog-and-pony show, tagging the event with the legend, “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it,” speculators have been speculating that Steve Jobs’ Apple Computer and The BeatlesApple Corps have finally worked out a deal to make the Fab Four catalog available online. Why else would the Cupertino Apple pick the very day Apple/Capitol releases the remastered Beatles catalog to make its own top-secret unveiling?

In a recent story on ZDnet.com bearing the headline, “Conspiracy theory: Yellow Submarine iPod touch on 9/9/9,” blogger Jason D. O'Grady added his voice to those of the numerous other fearless forecasters predicting the 9/9 alignment of the Apples and explaining his reasoning. Here’s the gist of it:

“About that date. Apple prefers to make announcements on Tuesday so that they don’t get lost in the news glut on Monday. Two the past four years, Apple’s September music event has occurred on a Tuesday. Two years were on Wednesdays. Call this one a long shot, but Apple couldn’t announce the iTunes Beatles partnership on Tuesday 9/8 because it’s the day before the remasters are released…

“Then there’s that mysterious television commercial that Apple shot in ’40s-style diner in California last month. It could be the first commercial promoting The Beatles iTunes tie-up. Apple loves showing its brand-new TV commercials at its keynotes.

“Check out The Beatles 999 promotional video, it practically looks like an iPod commercial.

“So there you have it, The Beatles will finally grace the iTunes on 9/9/9. I predict that Apple will also offer a limited edition iPod touch that will include the entire remastered catalog and a special Beatles app of some sort. You heard it here first :)”

For every believer, of course, there’s a skeptic laughing it up at the perceived preposterousness of such a scenario. Consider the argument of the ever-opinionated Roger Friedman, writing in his Showbiz411 column last week:

“Everybody in the Apple/iPod/Beatles world, please cool down. The big Apple announcement next week on Sept. 9 has nothing to do with the Beatles. I am assured by my Fab Four insiders that there will be no news on that concerning downloads of Beatles songs on iTunes. The Apple press conference set for that day is supposedly all about Cocktail, the new add-on service that’s supposed to help increase album sales.

“I don’t know why anyone thought a Beatles announcement was forthcoming. There are so many clues that it’s not happening. For one, the tagline for the day, on the invites, is ‘It’s only rock and roll, but we like it.’ This a line from a Rolling Stones song. Did you really think Apple would use that for a Beatles promotion?”

But here’s the key to Friedman’s argument—and in our minds (such as they are) the most compelling reason why Jobs and company won’t be climbing on the Beatles bandwagon on Big Wednesday (with our boldfacing added):

“And really, 09-09-09 has already been cleared as Beatles day around the world for selling physical CDs, not downloading music. On that day the entire Beatles catalog is relaunched for the first time in 22 years in stereo and mono remastered discs. The mega promotion has been so heavily marketed, and clearly designed to move physical units, a downloading announcement would be totally counterproductive.

“At this rate, my guess is it will be a long, long time before the Beatles’ music is offered for legal downloading anywhere. And why would they? One great aspect of the Beatles’ unwillingness to remain available only on CD is so that the albums are not broken up into singles. In the cases of Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper, the White Album, and Abbey Road, it only makes sense to force consumers to encounter them as whole concepts, and not all mixed up in a random shuffle.”

So there you have the arguments of the handicappers, pro and con. Will 09/09/09 be a spectacular last hurrah for the compact disc thanks to the crystalline rollout of the greatest body of music in the history of popular music, or will the big news of the day be the unveiling of a next-gen iPod touch preloaded with that same body of work? We’ll find out soon enough…

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