As we reported here earlier, on November 16, at 10:00 am Eastern time, Apple unveiled its latest big deal on the company's web page. Except maybe it wasn't such a big deal. And this time, the hype machine that has propelled Apple to massive profits may have hit a false note.
For several days, Apple's website promised a major announcement on the 16th about iTunes—one that "could change everything." And when that announcement turned out to be a distribution deal with the Beatles, people who had been refreshing their browser since 9:30 am to see what was coming realized that their desire to be the first to know about the latest Apple had to offer had been used against them.
Apple now has exclusive distribution of 13 Beatles albums that nearly every hard-core Beatles fan already owns, or has obtained by other means. Perhaps the the arrival of the Beatles on Apple's iTunes is a big deal to Apple because it marks the end of a long legal feud between the band's Apple record label and Apple Inc. that began with trademark infringement claims in 1978.
But for many people of a younger generation who aren't Beatles fans—or those of any generation who aren't fans, or have already "ripped" their Beatles CDs into their iTunes libraries long ago—the announcement yields, at best, a shrug of indifference.
In fact, it probably alienated more people than it excited, coming off as a bait-and-switch prank like the infamous "Rickroll". Many were thinking something completely different was coming—streaming music from the iTunes store, for example.
"I won't forget this day because Apple made the Internet angry," one person said in a post-announcement "tweet".
The problem with the sort of "this changes everything" approach Apple takes to marketing is that, inevitably, the "reality distortion field" that surrounds everything Steve Jobs touches begins to be less effective. While Apple's latest hardware announcements, such as the MacBook Air, have been undeniable achievements in engineering and design, the Beatles announcement used the same sort of hype to promote something that it only took lawyers to make.