I love Apple gear. For the last 3 decades, I have at some point become besotted with the majority of their offerings, from the Mac Plus, the Quadra 700, pretty much every laptop, iMac (yes even the flat panel on the arm one), and mobile device they’ve ever made. Their excellence in making industrial design beautiful and desirable is without question, as is their proven ability to keep leading where others follow. You may choose to disagree, but on this point I cannot be argued with, nor will I rise to baiting. So when I read that Apple are allegedly in the final stages of negotiating a $3.2 billion deal to acquire Beats, I’m left wondering why Apple would need to do such a thing.
Now let’s get this straight right from the start — the brand perception of Beats from the majority of the DJ masses is in the toilet. They are blanketly accused of being utter trash, even from people who haven’t ever bothered to pick them up and try them out for themselves — it’s just easier to knee jerk everyone else’s opinion as their own.
But I have a lot of love for Beats, but let’s be even more clear on this point — when I’m talking about Beats, I mean Beats Pro — not the Monster/Beats collab of old or the regular consumer fodder. That said, the new wireless Studio 2s are nothing short of excellent, and the Beats Pill bluetooth speaker is outstanding.
CAN’T APPLE JUST MAKE HEADPHONES?
So let’s play this scenario out a little. Apple doesn’t buy companies – it buys technology to put inside Apple products to do things better than they do already, or to stop the march of potential competitors. But I struggle with the idea that Apple can’t design headphones so bloody aspirational and lovely that they’ve just figured it would be easier to snap up the next best thing. Think what you like about Beats, but with some cosmetic tweaks and changes to packaging, the existing range is pretty much what Apple would most probably design anyway. The aforementioned Studio 2s in particular would look very much at home with an Apple logo in place of the Beats one. Ultimately, if Tim Cook asked Jony Ive to design headphones, and Beats are more or less where he would create, given the $130 billion they have in the bank, it makes sense to snap them up and Apple-ize them in double-quick time.
There is also another part of this equation to consider. Apple dominance in online music is clear, but where they are weak is with streaming services. iTunes Radio hasn’t really set the world on fire, but after just a short space of time Beats Music is already turning a few heads. This does rather make this the cherry on top of the deal, but most certainly not the main dish.
Like myself, the tech media is agog with pretty much the same info and spin on this story. We know people at Apple and Beats, but I don’t expect that they’ll be telling us anything that we could publish. We’ll just have to wait for further news, if any even exists. Remember when Apple were buying Valve and Tesla? Didn’t happen, and this could be much the same too.
OVER TO YOU
DJs – can you imagine if say the Beats brand disappeared and the injection of Apple juice from a quality and ID perspective meant that the Beats Mixrs became the Apple Mixrs? How would you feel about them then?