Beatles Library Goes Digital without iTunes Store

Apple Corps, the company that manages The Beatles works, announced on Wednesday that it is releasing a limited edition USB drive with the bands complete album collection in MP3 and FLAC formats. The announcement marks the first time the Fab Four's songs have been legitimately available in electronic format, but they aren't available through Apple's iTunes Store.

The limited edition USB drives are shaped like the Apple Corps apple logo and include the band's complete digitally remastered album collection in stereo, album liner notes, and documentary videos. The songs are encoded as 320Kbps MP3 and 44.1Khz 24-bit FLAC without any copy protection.

The Beatles Limited Edition USB Collection

Apple Corps and EMI aren't saying when the band's works will be available for download through services like Apple Inc's iTunes Store. Rumors have been floating around for years that The Beatles works would first appear in digital format at Apple's online music store.

The band's album collection was released on September 9, 2009 as a set of digitally remastered CDs, leading to speculation that downloadable versions couldn't be far behind. Instead, it appears that Apple Corps and EMI are slowly moving towards the download market with interim digital products focused on hard core fans.

The special edition Beatles USB collection will be available on December 7 in the U.K. and December 8 in the U.S. The apple-shaped drive will be limited to 30,000 and will set fans back £200 (about US$331.21). The limited edition collection is available for pre-order now.