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The Beatles now for sale on iTunes

It’s been ten years in the making, but now finally official: the Fab Four have arrived into the 21st century. Today Apple began offering all 13 of the Beatles’ studio albums for sale through iTunes making the it the first and only online store to carry the Beatles’ music.

Rumors began circulating yesterday after Apple posted a cryptic message on its website: “Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget.” Speculation ranged from announcements about an iTunes cloud service to “free music for everyone!” The latter of those predictions turned out to be the closest to the reality. Except replace “free” with “not free” and specify “music” as “Beatles albums.”

Right now you can head over to iTunes and download “Revolution 1″ and other songs for $1.29 a pop and complete studio albums for $12.99. The White Album and two compilation albums are selling for $19.99 each.  ITunes is also offering a “box set” for $149 containing every studio album, the Past Masters collections, plus an iTunes LP containing mini-documentaries on each of the albums.

The announcement marks the end of a long struggle for Apple. Steve Jobs, a self-professed Beatles fan, has pursued the Beatles’ music since iTunes launched back in early 2001. It is now evident that Apple and EMI, the band’s record label, were able to reach an agreement, but it’s not clear what the terms of that deal included.

Despite the fuss that Apple is likely to make over the deal, it’s not assured that the move will attract any new customers to iTunes. After all, it has been nearly a decade since iTunes first launched sans-Beatles and by now it’s likely that fans already have procured their own digital copies of Beatles albums – either legitimately ripped from CDs or illegitimately downloaded from peer-to-peer services. Younger fans may be content to listen to “Hey Jude” through streaming services like Grooveshark.

Had this happened say nine-and-half years ago, then we’re sure that the Beatles would have been a big attraction for customers wary of the idea of a digital music store. Now, while the deal certainly symbolizes Apple’s status as the world’s largest music retailer, it’s not for certain that it will end up being much of a financial boon to either Apple or EMI.