Rumored reasons rumored Apple/Beats deal hasn't been rumored done
Why hasn't the rumored, rumored delayed, rumored still on, Apple/Beats unannounced acquisition not been announced yet? First, if that sounds a little meta or self-consuming, that's because it is. Second, everything from the ill-considered Gibson/Dre video to the complexities of the agreement to the alignment of the stars (not in the sky) seems to be on the list. According to Billboard
Apparently, the Apple family near imploded with outrage when that video went up on Facebook of an 'excited' Dr. Dre with R&B singer/former Coca Cola pin-up Tyrese. In the video they share, in language perhaps unsuitable for a family blog, how Dre will be hip-hop's first billionaire and other nice things about Compton. People often forget that despite Apple being this company that makes sexy products, with sexy profit margins, and sexy retail outlets…it is not in fact a very sexy company. It is a conservative company, particularly without the leadership of its guiding light Steve Jobs who would shake things up massively on a daily basis. This is not the kind of thing Apple is used to. It leads us to the next point.
I'm not sure what Gibson's background or Compton have to do with anything. Nor Steve Jobs and "shaking things up". Apple has historically viewed companies and people leaking information about their deals as plan-changing, potentially deal-breaking incidents. There'd be nothing new or unique about that angle.
I've spoken a lot about Apple/Beats on both MacBreak Weekly and the iMore show recently, but I haven't written much about it. Part of that is because the original leak presented details including the parties and dollars involved but not the purpose, which felt like an odd omission. Speculation, including mine, filled that vacuum in a variety of ways:
- Beats headphones are big sellers with huge margins and brand affinity and if Apple can add that to their accessory revenue, why not?
- Beats brand appeals to a different cultural segment that Apple's and if Apple can grow their addressable market via that brand, why not?
- Beats subscription music licenses might be transferable and if Apple can use that to jump-start their own subscription service, why not?
- Beats' Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have excellent industry connections and if Apple can use them to both give Eddie Cue — Apple's SVP of services and a man whose plate is beyond full — a break to focus on other stuff, and expand their industry relationships, why not?
- Beats' Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have connections that could help Apple expand into studio-like businesses and if they can better control their destiny that way, why not?
Whether or not any of that, singularly or in combination, means anything is tough to say. Apple could no doubt do a lot of that on their own, but efficiency might favor jump-starting some or all of it. Hell, Beats could be a signing bonus for Iovine and Dre. if Apple feels them valuable enough talent to help shape the future of "iTunes".
At the end of the day all we know now is all we knew then — there's a rumor of a deal. It's fun to speculate about because why and how Apple does things in fascinating. Contemplating what problems Beats could solve for Apple, or how Beats could make Apple's products more valuable is fascinating. As is how Apple could do the same with another deal, or on their own. Beyond that, however, it's just another variation on "rumored product faces rumored delay". It's just echo-chamber fist-eggplant.
Anyone who thinks "Apple is suffering a crisis of confidence right now" doesn't understand Apple at all. No wonder Billboard has botched the story on this acquisition.