After years of denying online distributors access, Apple Corps. has authorized Apple to sell the entire back catalog of rock legends The Beatles on iTunes. Up until this morning’s announcement, the only way to obtain the Fab Four’s music online was by ordering their CD’s off of almost any retailer’s site. While Apple was completely giddy about the news, the question remains: Does this news really matter in 2010?

Since iTunes broke it’s way into the popular conscious with Windows support in 2003, The Beatles have always been one of the blaring omissions from it’s seemingly limitless catalog. During that time, we have seen the release of The Beatles: Rock Band and a boxed set featuring digitally remastered versions of every one of their full length albums, as well as an extra B-sides disc. It’s easy to assume that many of the people who were initially frustrated with the band’s absence on iTunes have found other ways to get their fill of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Had Apple obtained exclusive rights to the band’s catalog five or six years ago, it would have been a watershed of an event. Right as digital music sales were beginning to outperform their physical counterparts, the announcement may have been seen as a dynamic boost to the legitimacy of services like iTunes. However, now that online music stores have become the norm, the news has less of an impact than it otherwise would have half a decade ago.  Additionally, with iTunes store prices set at $1.29 a song and $12.99-$19.99 per album, a true Beatles fan would be better off purchasing the physical box set. Not only does it contain gorgeous packaging, the buyer gets the satisfaction of physically being able to hold all of the group’s albums in his or her hands. For $129.99 on Amazon, it is a better value than buying the albums separately on iTunes, and may further explain why several sites shrugged at Apple’s announcement.

That’s not to say the group’s catalog won’t sell. Many casual fans of the band will likely jump on the opportunity to buy and create their own Beatles mixtape. However, with so many ways to access the band’s music and the ubiquity of online music stores, this news can simply be seen as Apple putting another feather in it’s peacock of a hat.

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