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The Beatles make solid debut on iTunes, but the deal could have gone to Google

The Beatles discography went on sale on Apple iTunes this week. A new report suggests that Apple had to beat out both Google and Amazon to get their hands on the Fab Four catalog.

By Matthew Shaer / November 17, 2010

The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. A new report suggests that Amazon and Google both bid for the right to sell digital tracks from the Beatles catalog. In the end, the discography went to Apple and its iTunes marketplace.

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As we reported yesterday, The Beatles have made a belated appearance on iTunes – 16 albums in all, plus a $150 set, which comprises every studio record released by the Fab Four. The iTunes debut was the result of some serious back-and-forth tussling between EMI, the label that has long housed The Beatles, and the folks over at Infinite Loop.

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But according to The New York Post, the whole thing could have gone very differently. Google and Amazon were also contenders for The Beatles catalog, the Post reports today, but Apple won out. The Post article cites anonymous "industry sources"; EMI has declined to comment. "Who else are they going to do a deal with?" an industry exec told the Post. "Apple dominates the digital market."

Over at ZDNet, Christopher Dawson argues that Google and Amazon didn't stand a chance. The agreement between Apple and The Beatles, he continued, "says a lot, actually, about the market position of the iPhone... If all of your music lives in iTunes because Apple so thoroughly dominates this market and you bought an iPod three years ago, what sort of phone are you going to buy?"

Dawson answers his own question: "Maybe an Android if you have some compelling reason to do so, but the iPhone starts looking awfully attractive when you’d like to manage all of your digital content in one place."

The Beatles discography, at any rate, was clearly worth fighting for. As Brett Molina notes this morning over at USA Today, 28 of the top-selling 100 tracks on iTunes are now by The Beatles. Meanwhile, Molina writes, "16 of the top 50 [albums] are from The Beatles, including four in the top 10: Abbey Road, The Beatles (White Album),Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and The Beatles Box Set."

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