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Originally published August 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 30, 2007 at 2:06 AM

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New iPod speculation sends Apple shares up

Apple rose nearly 6 percent on speculation the company will debut new versions of the iPod media player, and that its iTunes store may start...

Bloomberg News

Apple rose nearly 6 percent on speculation the company will debut new versions of the iPod media player, and that its iTunes store may start selling music from The Beatles.

The company e-mailed invitations Tuesday to a Sept. 5 event called "The Beat Goes On." They show a silhouetted dancer carrying an iPod, with album covers in the background, suggesting Apple may debut new iPods, according to analysts including Goldman Sachs' David Bailey.

New iPods may prompt buyers to upgrade devices in the next two quarters, the analyst said in a report. The player accounted for almost a third of sales in the last quarter. The wording of the e-mail also suggests Apple may have reached a deal with The Beatles after ending decades of litigation this year, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster said.

"We expect Apple to launch several unreleased tracks and other special Beatles-related content," Munster said in a Wednesday report. "The beat goes on" were the final words used in The Beatles' last news release in 1970, a sign Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs may announce a deal for their music, said Munster, who rates the shares "outperform."

Apple shares soared 7.26 to close at $134.08.

In February, Apple resolved a legal dispute with The Beatles over rights to use the "Apple" name and logos, prompting analysts to speculate on a forthcoming deal to bring the Fab Four's music to iTunes.

The Beatles' catalog, which includes hits such as "A Hard Day's Night," "Something" and "Yesterday," isn't legally distributed on the Internet. While music giant EMI has rights to put the group's recordings on CDs and other physical formats, the Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd. hasn't granted digital rights to the songs.

Apple Corps is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison. McCartney said in May that a deal to offer the band's music online was "virtually settled." This year Apple added the solo catalogs of McCartney, Starr and Lennon to the iTunes store.

Jobs hasn't updated the iPod since last year's introduction of the $79 Shuffle. Apple has sold more than 100 million iPods since their debut in 2001. It's the best-selling digital media player in the U.S., with about a 70 percent share of the market, according to the NPD Group.

UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said he expects a new version of Apple's pencil-thin Nano with more storage and an update of the video iPod that includes the touch-screen display that debuted in the iPhone in June.

The iPhone combines a music and video player with a mobile handset and has a 3.5-inch color screen, compared with the 2.5-inch display Apple now offers on the video iPod.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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