Apple's Long and Winding Road

The Beatles are finally coming to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iTunes.

The legendary quartet that has skirted digital distribution -- legally -- is finally going to cash in on the Web-based revolution. All 13 of the band's original studio albums are now available on the country's leading digital music marketplace.

Apple wasn't shy about dropping hints yesterday, promoting this morning's announcement with a clues-laden teaser on the Apple.com homepage.

The landing page read:

Tomorrow is just another day.
That you'll never forget.
Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes.

There were also four clocks on the bottom, with the 7 a.m. time in California translated into the equivalent time zones in New York, London, and 12 a.m. in Tokyo.

The one clue that gave it away -- and since I haven't read it anywhere else, I may as well toss that out there -- is that any die-hard head-banger will recognize Midnight in Tokyo -- the time on the final clock -- as a song by Y&T, a band that named itself after The Beatles' Yesterday and Today mix album.

Yesterday? Today? Tomorrow is just another day.

Are The Beatles fashionably late or the perfect catalyst to breathe new life into digital music?

The niche could definitely use some excitement. Apple isn't selling as many iPods as it used to, though one can argue that hot-selling iPhones and even iPads double as media players.

The one thing that is undeniable is that digital music sales have stalled -- if not peaked. Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG  ) posted a 10% sequential decline in digital music sales during the second quarter, a trend that will likely continue when it delivers its third-quarter financials tomorrow.

Apple needs to do more.

This summer's debut of Ping could have made music sharing more social, but Apple's new iTunes feature has received mixed reviews.

The only logical move left would be to roll out a subscription service, but that's not a slam-dunk either. Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY  ) Napster and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Zune Pass have been at it for years with limited success.

Obviously, the arrival of The Beatles will help in the near term. Just as Viacom (NYSE: VIA  ) and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) banked on the Fab Four to breathe new life into their Rock Band video game franchise, the hope here is that baby boomers who perhaps never embraced iTunes or digital music in general may be motivated to check it all out now that arguably the greatest band of their generation is on board.

It is too late, but better late than never.  

Will you be buying Beatles tracks from iTunes? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Best Buy and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Apple, Best Buy, and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Best Buy. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Best Buy, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is finally finding artists worth following on Ping, but it'll take more than that to make him more than marginally active. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2010, at 4:37 PM, 1caflash wrote:

    Rick, I'm glad You mentioned ERTS. I like KNM. Konami reminds me of Apple when I knew nothing about Steve Jobs. November 16, 2010, KNM traded the most shares since I bought my 1,900 June 2010. Konami is the BEST in Its Segment; I view this Firm as a $30 per Share Investment within 2 Years or Less. Another Firm I Really Like is Ares Capital. You have until Pearl Harbor Day to buy into ARCC for its next Dividend; 35 Cents per Share. I won't sell you my 4,200 Shares. Ares sold 10 Million shares November 2010 at $16.50 Each. As of this writing, ARCC probably sold 1.5 Million More Shares to its Underwriters. This Dilution will not affect Its P/E dramatically. Think how much the Big Money will get at about 8 Percent Yield! ARCC is a Bargain and will be a STEAL if it gets into the low 15's due to Profit-Taking. Embrace Great Dividend-Paying Stocks as They Go On Sale. It will be a Happier New Year's Eve for Investors who keep Ares and also a Fine 2011.

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