Apple might be on the verge of buying Beats for an incredible $3.2bn dollars, which only leaves me wondering this: Why?
Perhaps this is a stupid question for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, many recent acquisitions in the tech industry have made me wonder the same thing, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.
And secondly, Apple clearly isn’t stupid so it must know something I don’t, like Beats having recently secured a patent on headphones that will be worth billions (like Amazon being granted a patent for taking photos against a white background).
From where I’m sitting it looks like it will acquire a fledgling music service that isn’t as well known or used as iTunes, plus the hardware side of a business that convinces people to pay top-dollar for headphones with a huge ‘b’ on the sides, presumably to tell those around you that you’re clearly into music (and not just a sucker for the hype) – and perhaps not noticing that these days a lot of people aren’t looking at you because they’re jealous.
It’s not to say the headphones are of poor quality, but rather that they’re sold with a huge premium over what you could get elsewhere, from companies that have quite a heritage in audio products but are perhaps now considered not as cool as a brand promoted by the music industry. Is it any surprise that Beats came from a company selling overpriced cables?
Some might argue that this is in fact a perfect buy for Apple, which also sells its products and accessories at a premium – but Apple is a generally well-trusted brand, and many look at Beats as nothing more than a company out to rip impressionable people off.
Again, nobody can claim Apple products are bad quality, but they are (to quote from the old Stella Artois’ advertising campaign) ‘reassuringly expensive’. Perhaps Apple thinks it can enjoy a slice of the Beats audio pie, before said pie goes mouldy and is replaced with a nice new pie from someone else in a few year’s time.
Apple’s brand seems like one that will survive changing fashions and span many generations, which is something I am not sure about Beats or any of the other audio accessory names that spring up from time to time.
But, I have to finish off by repeating my view that Apple must have some master plan for Beats, although I’m sure this won’t be slapping a Beats audio logo on the iPhone 6 and adding the Beats logo to its earphones.
Or maybe I’m totally wrong and that’s exactly what it will do…
Breaking story with comments via The Verge