Five things missing from Beatles/iTunes deal

Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34pm EST
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By Louis Hau and Antony Bruno

NEW YORK (Billboard) - One striking aspect of the newly available Beatles albums on iTunes is that they weren't accompanied by the release of more digital bells and whistles.

When EMI Music reissued all of the band's albums on CD last year, every title boasted improved sound, detailed liner notes, a generous selection of photos and mini-video documentaries about the recording of each album.

The iTunes versions don't include a whole lot more, offering the same documentaries and other material in the deluxe iTunes LP format, along with a 1964 concert film available only as part of the $149 digital "Beatles Box Set." (iTunes is also making a free online stream of the film available through the end of the year.)

Despite Apple Corps' conservative handling of the Beatles catalog over the years, it has occasionally demonstrated a willingness to take creative risks, as it did with the Beatles edition of MTV/Harmonix's "Rock Band" videogame and the startling mash-ups featured in Cirque du Soleil's "Love" show.

That recent history and the protracted wait for an eventual retail partnership with iTunes -- hey folks, it's 2010! -- seemed to portend a more ambitious digital download debut.

Now that the Beatles have finally embraced digital distribution, perhaps there's more to come. In the meantime, here are five things we expected to see but didn't:

1. A Beatles iPad

Back in 2004, Apple Inc., U2 and Universal Music Group collaborated on the release of the iPod U2 Special Edition. The black and red music player was engraved with the signatures of all four band members and came with a coupon that could be redeemed for $50 off the purchase of the $149 "The Complete U2" digital box set.   Continued...

<p>An advertisement on the Apple Inc. website is seen on a MacBook Air computer in New York, November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>