Social media this evening is all aflutter with the news that Apple may be purchasing Beats. As you can imagine, the knee jerk reactions run the gamut from, "...Interesting," to, "OMG this would never have happen if Steve were alive, shitty headphones, brain aneurysm, Apple is dooomed."
As a few commentators have pointed out, something tells me this isn't necessarily about hardware. Usually when Apple acquires companies, they do so to bolster their existing hardware or services. It would be very odd to have them continue selling Beats headphones as they are packaged now. Could they use the technology Beats offers and then improve them with their own engineering expertise? Possibly. It wouldn't surprise me to see that division quietly dismantled or spun off. Though, with the hardware end of the Beats brand being so valuable, I'm not quite sure what they would do with it. If this was a Facebook or Google acquisition, the roadmap would be a lot more obvious.
However, it seems to me that, if this rumor is true (and with big players such as Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times seemingly confirming that it is), Apple sees an opportunity in incorporating the new streaming service, Beats Music. With the rise of various other streaming services out there, I think Apple realizes that iTunes Radio isn't going to quite cut it. I would not be surprised whatsoever if this was a chance to get really serious about a subscription based music service tightly integrated with iTunes (maybe change the pricing structure on iTunes Match to incorporate unlimited streaming, as well as the ad-free iTunes Radio experience?).
One line continues to stick out to me about this report though, as reported by Juli Clover at MacRumors:
According to the Financial Times, the deal is still in the works with some details yet to be ironed out, suggesting "talks could still fall apart."
I'm always wary of latching onto rumors when they include a line as shaky as this. It strikes me as something someone says if they're trying to leak bullshit, but don't want to be tossed aside as an unreliable source if nothing comes from it.
Regardless, if this comes to fruition as reported, it's Apple's biggest acquisition in its history, which is notable in and of itself. What they do with Beats will surely be an intriguing chapter in their already outstanding history in the music business.
If it doesn't happen... Well, it's fun to dream about the possibilities until we wake back up.
Update (5/23/14): Looks like I may have been right to be wary of this to begin with, based on the stories coming out of Billboard:
Well, Monday and Tuesday passed and we were assured the deal would actually be announced early this week. By early this week we were told it would now be announced next week. We, like other outlets, have been reassured the deal is happening…or as close to definitely happening as any source is willing to say given they’re speaking on background. (Although the scuttlebutt on the Silicon Valley anonymous gossip app Secret might say otherwise.)
I am less and less inclined to believe that this is happening/was happening to begin with. Also, can we just agree right now to stop fucking sourcing Secret of all things? I've spent the last couple weeks looking through that app, and between people talking about how much they want to bone someone and discussing how much they secretly hate their significant other/children/pets/food/[insert noun], I immediately realized it's not a super reliable source of information.
Shocking, I know. Maybe I'd trust it more if that one post about Mark Zuckerberg growing a big ol' bushy beard had been correct...