Apple buying Beats, expect changes to its headphones and iTunes

This could be the ultimate marriage between two names oft-associated with overpriced hardware

Perhaps it's serendipity that Apple buys Beats, a brand that only exists because its makers thought the former made really crap headphones.

The biggest criticism about Beats has been that while its audio cans look great, you can get much better sounding ones for much less than what the company charges.

The jokes usually made about Beats usually revolve around the perception that the audio quality you get is mediocre for what you're paying for. Which is usually through your nose.

But overpriced or not, Beats headphones are still much coveted status symbols endorsed by the likes of Dr. Dre and formerly pushed by troubled phonemaker HTC.

Is Apple running out of ideas?

While Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been spending quite a bit on acquisitions, Apple under Steve Jobs has not been into making high-profile purchases so the US$3.2 billion (RM10.32 billion) it's purportedly spending on Beats comes as a surprise.

Why Beats? Why not more credible makers of high-quality, premium audio like Shure? After all, Logitech brought the Ultimate Ears brand which is very much-loved by studio professionals.

The currency Apple seems wanting to buy here is cool. After all, part of Apple's appeal is in its design and making beautiful products is something Beats does on a regular basis. And charging a premium at the same time too. Beats apparently makes more than a billion in sales a year even if the audiophiles scoff at what they have to offer.

Another reason could be Beats' own streaming service which might shore up Apple's own offering. It's highly unlikely and perhaps too expensive for Apple to try and buy Spotify, Deezer, Rdio and the like, so Beats offers value in both hardware and music streaming software, which buying a mere audio headset maker would not offer.

Just how will Apple merge Beats into its current portfolio? Beats headsets will likely be a sure staple at Apple stores everywhere for certain and perhaps some tweaks to iTunes will come somewhere down the pipeline.

Will this be money well spent by Apple? We'll just have to see.

[Source: Financial Times]

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