Metal Tech

What Apple’s $3.2 Billion Acquisition of Beats Music Means for You


beats_appleIn case you missed it, Apple has bought Beats Music — both the headphone manufacturer and the streaming music service — for $3.2 Billion, after weeks of speculation. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine both work for Apple now, which is kind of funny.

I’ll fess up to not having tried the Beats streaming service yet. I was a fan and subscriber of MOG, the prior service which Beats was built upon, but when Beats came out there was no desktop or web player so I gave up. I eventually downloaded the mobile app but never got around to using it. I listen to the majority of my music while I’m sitting at my desk writing posts like this one and I already pay for Spotify, so why pay for another service that offers the same music in less places? Oh, I know, the curation, but I’m someone who generally knows what I want to listen to at any given moment, although I understand the appeal of this feature. All in all, Beats doesn’t really make sense for me right now.

But here’s who it does make sense for: Apple, a company who built a music empire through iPods and the iTunes Store and has been seeking entry into the streaming game for some time now. And if it makes sense for Apple, it makes sense for me. If Beats becomes integrated into iTunes, or just becomes iTunes Streaming or whatever, you can bet your ass I’d use it… and so would anyone else with iTunes: anyone who owns an iPod, iPhone or Mac, which is a helluva lot of people. Apple already has the ultimate platform with which to leverage users into a new streaming service.

If I’m Spotify, I’m shitting my pants right about now. That expanded market share they’re seeking — those people who haven’t yet gotten into streaming services — is about to be gobbled up by a company with a much bigger user base and better leverage than them, or at least that’s what Apple will attempt to do.

Music-wise, you can expect any new iTunes Streaming / Beats service to host all the metal you could ever want. Back in the MOG days there were a few metal labels the service offered that Spotify didn’t, but the gap has been steadily closing. And any remaining gaps will surely be plugged by Apple — if you’re on regular iTunes, you’re gonna wanna be on iTunes Streaming. I can’t imagine Apple cannibalizing their own robust downloads business, so users will likely have the option to buy or stream, a best-of-both-worlds scenario for a label.

As for the headphones, they’re such a huge money-maker that I can’t really see Apple messing with the formula. Maybe iPods and iPhones will start to come standard with a new Beats earphones product, or there will be special upgraded packages available with the full headphones. That’s just speculation. I haven’t tried Beats headphones myself, but the sense I get from people I trust is that they’re mediocre headphones with great marketing attached and an exorbitant price tag.

So, in the end, pretty much everyone wins here — including you, metal consumer — except, possibly, for Spotify. We’ll see how this all shakes out.

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