It makes me sick to my stomach just typing it. This entire deal makes me angry. As someone who would like to see Apple prosper (please do not interpret that to mean I’m a fangirl) I just can’t wrap my head around this deal. I will admit, I purchased a pair of craptastic Beats earbuds recently (read: within the past year) and was gravely disappointed. How could headphones cost this much and sound so horrible? At that point I ended any dealings with Beats. So when I heard that Apple purchased Beats…it was just a sad day.
I may not speak for the masses when I mention how unhappy I am with the earbuds that come with the iPhone. Yes with the iPhone5 things have gotten better but when it comes to commuting and working out, my iPhone earbuds aren’t my go-to. Yes, Apple does make an in-ear alternative but why should I have to pay an extra $70 when I just spent $800 for the phone? With this (horrible, expensive, ridiculous) merger, will we see a better earbud offering with the next gen iPhone?
I don’t think Apple is interested in producing the best sounding earbud/headphones at all.
Let’s bypass all the gossip about this merger being about the music streaming service. For that to be the case, Apple would be admitting (in a round about way) that iTunes Radio is a complete failure. While ITR may not have completely revolutionized online music streaming, I don’t think it’s safe to make that assumption. Apple may completely revamp ITR now that it has acquired the Beats service (the rumor about an ‘on-Demand’ radio service had been swarming before the procurement). With Amazon rumored to be launching an online music service before the end of the year, Samsung dropping Milk Music and Google Music becoming notable Apple probably felt the need to make moves. Understandably so. Also the Wall Street Journal estimates Beats’ streaming service only valued at $500 million and funded by a different group of investors than the hardware division.
This deal can’t be about the headphones (because…logic) so what other option is there?
So far in 2014, almost all of the big tech companies (Samsung, Sony, LG etc) have released and/or showcased some sort of wearable technology. Apple seems to be late to the party, but with the purchase of Beats maybe it has cut down some of its R&D time (and budget) trying to produce headset hardware and focus more on the technology. Back in February, Apple was granted a patent for headphones that can measure your vital statistics. Such devices can (read: will) sync to your phone (or iWatch!) offering you a hands free option for tracking your exercise/workout stats. CNET reports such devices can not only record your vitals as you play sports but also may respond to the motion of your head to perform certain tasks (read the CNET article here). While I’m not sure frantic head-jerking motions are the way to go, the wireless stat tracking sounds right up Apple’s target demographic. I have questions (i.e: what will the range limit be between your device and the headset, will this be app specific or something built into a device, etc.) but imagine how this would change the way people train, from the Olympic athlete to the everyday runner training for a marathon. I think Apple wants to be a major player in the upcoming wearables market and this expensive unification with Beats is the tip of the iceberg.
If you get a chance, Billboard.com has a very interesting article on how/why Beats needed this deal, or any deal for that matter to happen. Check it out here. Definitely an interesting, alternative take. I’m sure Jimmy Iovine’s connections in the music industry didn’t hurt in signing on the dotted line.
Out of all of the ‘theories’ I’ve heard about this deal, I’m sticking with the technology explanation. I am sure Apple has big plans for Beats and none of us will see it coming once it hits. I’m not sure about you guys but I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.