Critics claim Apple has failed to come up with any game-changing devices since introducing the iPad in 2010, settling instead for upgrades and improvements on its existing products. Now, word has filtered out that Apple is thinking about paying $3.2 billion to purchase Beats Audio, bringing a new round of financial and tech critics out of the woodwork.
Since Apple has people who could develop great headphones and Beats Audio’s streaming music service hasn’t made that big of a dent in similar services, such as Pandora or Spotify, many critics wonder just what the heck is Apple thinking. Tech journalist Sean Hollister may have an answer in The Verge, an online tech and media publication.
“Apple’s modus operandi has always been to acquire firms that help it build things,” Hollister wrote. “Do you remember SoundJam MP? P.A. Semi? How about C3 Technologies? Probably not, because Apple ground their bones to make its bread. Apple baked their technology and talent into iTunes, the Apple iPhone processor, and Apple Maps, respectively.”
Wearable technology is an area Apple has been eyeing for some time, if you believe all the rumors of an impending iWatch. At the same time, nothing has resonated with consumers quite like Beats. The headphone brand has become a status symbol, worn by star athletes and celebrities and desired by teens and college students. In fact, the spring 2014 PiperJaffray survey found 46% of teens identified Beats as the headphone brand they’d like to purchase.
Apple’s particular genius has been the ability to take a product and turn it into something much better. Beats provides Apple with a product it can improve on that already has “celebrity cachet,” according to Hollister.
“My hunch is that if Apple is buying Beats, it’s because Apple is ready to announce the iWatch,” he wrote. “It just needs [Beats co-founders] Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to wear one. Then, Apple would be doing something totally in character, something not surprising at all: buying the last key piece it needs for a technology that could change the world.”