iTunes teases with 3pm announcement

"Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget" announced the Apple home page yesterday, causing much rumour and speculation that is likely to continue until the official announcement is made, at 3pm (GMT) today. "Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes," the message finished, followed by a graphic of four clocks, each displaying a time for California, New York, London and Tokyo.

One popular theory as to the exact nature of the announcement is of iTunes moving to a 'cloud-based' format, where music would be stored on Apple's servers and streamed straight through the users' device. There is also talk of them implementing an iTunes subscription service, which would rival the likes of Spotify. This all comes on the back of Apple developing a new 500,000 square foot data centre in Newark, California, which also caused some to speculate that they would soon be moving to a cloud-based iTunes format.

Another popular focus for today's announcement is The Beatles' back catalogue, which has until now not been available through iTunes due to ongoing legal wrangling over the rights to the songs. Conspiracy theorists have delighted in highlighting the importance of the clocks on the Apple announcement, designed, apparently, to mimic the arms of the Fab Four on their Help! album cover.

More apparent evidence comes from more technical sources, with some Apple fans having trawled the files of the latest iTunes release (10.1, issued last Friday). They apparently found, nestled in the depths of the coding, some small references to an 'iTunes Live Stream URL', supporting the cloud-based theory.

We suspect it will be a combination of the two. The Beatles deal, which has apparently been confirmed by The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times just this morning, is a big deal, but perhaps not big enough in itself to warrant such hype on Apple's part. Coupling that with a major shift in iTunes functionality, however, would be very neat for them. There's only one way to find out

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