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iTunes teaser gets rumour mill rumbling

Apple's iTunes 10.1 arrived yesterday along with a teaser from the company which promises an exciting announcement later today.

The jump from version 10.1 to 10.01 of Apple's media-playing and device-syncing software comes in advance of the long-awaited iOS4.2 upgrade which brings the iPad into line with its sibling devices, but Apple is also hinting at more.

It seems likely that the ong-running spat between Apple (the Cupertino gadget maker) and Apple Corp (the holding company which owns the Beatles' back catalogue) is finally over and that the Liverpool mop-tops will soon be available on iTunes.

But a number of Apple-friendly tech blogs have also unearthed a mysterious entry in the parameter log (plist) for the latest version of iTunes which refers to an "iTunes Live Stream URL" which could herald the much-predicted subscription streaming service, rumours of which have been bublling around for many months.

Whether Apple will offer a dual-level service like Spotify, where users can listen to 'unlimited' music for free in exchange for putting up with radio-style ads, or stump up a monthly subscription for nag-free tuneage is unknown.

You should also bear in mind that Steve Jobs has already announced that Apple's grown-up laptop and desktop computers will soon be getting their very own App Store, which will almost certainly use iTunes for distribution and installation, so the possibility that it will launch earlier than expected should not be entirely dismissed.

The only fact the we can rely on is that no-one will really knows what lies in store for iTunes until Steve gets up at 3pm UK time today and spills the beans.