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Apple has previously sought Beats' help in online music streaming

The word on the street is that Apple is set to make its largest acquisition to date, and at first blush it seems like an unlikely pairing. The Financial Times initially reported this afternoon that Apple would soon announce that it is acquiring Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion.

Apple ended the last quarter with $156 billion in cash on hand (only $18 billion of that total is held domestically), so $3.2 billion is merely a drop in the bucket for Tim Cook and crew.

Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine [Image Source: AllThingsD]
Beats Electronics is best known for its line of premium headphones (you can’t swing a carry-on bag without smacking someone wearing a pair at the airport), but the company recently launched a subscription streaming music service. Apple reportedly is looking to overhaul its sagging iTunes Radio business, and Beats Music just might be the ticket to improving the company’s fortunes in that arena.

There was even talk in March of last year that Apple actively sought out Beats’ advice in bolstering its music streaming business, so the pairing shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

Beats Music officially launched on January 21, 2014
One would be forgiven for being skeptical of the deal if the Financial Times was the only source for the information. However, following the initial report, The New York Times, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal have also confirmed the report that the two companies are in active negotiations. 

Sources: Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

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maybe (but doubtful)
By ComputerJuice on 5/8/2014 8:25:41 PM , Rating: 4
Apple will increase the quality of Beats headphones for the price you pay. Now I get that headphones are largely a subjective product as far as perception of sound quality goes. But I've been in the entertainment/broadcast/recording/production industry for 25 years I can say with a reasonable measure of confidence that Beats are just not worth the money. For the same coin you can get FAR superior headphones.

I guess my fear is this will spawn nothing more than 30 million people saying their headphones are the best headphones in the universe simply because they are made by Apple and thus I will end up arguing with people that will be preaching about it. A significant portion of people who use these crap cans currently get pretty heated when they hear anyone say they aren't all that great... Now add apple to that mix with their legions of fanatics.

My only hope is Apple will improve them GREATLY and then an honest non-fanatical debate could ensue. Seems pretty unlikely TBH.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By GulWestfale on 5/8/2014 8:48:03 PM , Rating: 4
uh... beats used to be manufactured by the same company makes monster cables... so you know they're a complete and total ripoff. if you want good headphones, go with sennheiser; if you wanna look like a tool, buy beats.

thus, this potential purchase is exactly up apple's alley: all smoke and mirrors, no substance. their customers will go nuts, and as an added bonus, MAGICAL PRICING!!1!

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By althaz on 5/8/2014 10:55:21 PM , Rating: 3
Sennheiser definitely makes some great headphones, but of their scores of different models, only a few of them are actually the best value for money for their target audience.

If you want good anything (including headphones), you need to do your research for your own specific requirements. "Go get some Sennheisers" might not be AS bad as saying "go get some Beats", but it's not much better either.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By laststop311 on 5/9/2014 12:03:15 AM , Rating: 2
If you enjoy deep bass which is basically the target audience for beats go with ultrasone pro 900's. You can find them brand new for 349.99 if you look. They are my goto headphone for anything with deep intricate bass.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By atechfan on 5/9/2014 6:20:55 AM , Rating: 3
Most people don't even know what bass is. they think the mid-bass from hip-hop and techno drum tracks is bass, so Beats and similar companies artificially boost that range. It also hides the fact most of them can't even reproduce true low frequencies. Try the 16Hz of the lowest note on a pipe organ.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By BRB29 on 5/9/2014 8:21:31 AM , Rating: 3
As far as headphones and speakers goes, it's subjective. Some people like the boosted bass. Some people hate the true low and high freqs.

Audiophiles have their brands that suits them. Let other people buy what they like. No point in critiquing a product that people like regardless of how technically inferior it is.

Maybe it is not inferior but meant to suit what customers want. I prefer the cheap heavier sneakers for training. It is technically inferior but it works for me. No point in bashing anyone's preference.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By atechfan on 5/9/2014 10:11:33 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but "people like it" wasn't what was being discussed, but actual physics. The 100HZ range that is artificially boosted in Beats headphones to make shitty music thump is not good bass response. Can they hit sub 40 Hz and stay mostly flat? No, can they even begin to approach 20 Hz? Not even close. Sound quality is not subjective. It can be very objectively measured.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By BRB29 on 5/9/2014 1:21:09 PM , Rating: 1
Then please go out and only buy products with technically superior specs. You'll find out how disappointed you will be for a large % of your purchases.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Mitch101 on 5/10/2014 8:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree forget specs. Youll be swayed by them over what your ears are telling you.

Take a CD or Movie that you generally enjoy watching or listening to your local audio store. All should have a dozen plus speakers and amps in a room for testing. Play what you enjoy most then mix and match what sounds right to you.

I use a Yamaha Receiver with JBL's. Ive only heard one combo sound warmer and that was the same Yamaha with Boston Acoustics but it would have cost me an additional $600.00. I think mine provides better spacial reproduction for battle scenes and has defiantly made me think someone is at the door, down the hall, and almost pick up the phone, and yes predator was right next to me when Arnold was on the tree I almost was afraid to move. The Matrix bullet scene is excellent hearing the whiz by. When you hear it pass by your ear like its about to clip you then you got the right audio.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By atechfan on 5/11/2014 7:10:18 AM , Rating: 2
No, I won't, because I know that they will sound good with any style of music, as long as the source was well recorded. Beats sound ok with "urban" music, and that is about it, since that stuff emphasizes "beat", meaning, apparently, repetitive thumpy mid-low fake drums, over everything else.

Throw something with a multitude of instruments, like an orchestral piece, and it will sound like absolute garbage on Beats. The truly low notes will be almost non-existent. There will be an artificial spike in the mid-low, and then a sharp roll-off in the midrange, where a lot of the detail is.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Solandri on 5/10/2014 3:57:20 AM , Rating: 2
You're missing the point. There is nothing subjective about this. If the artist meant for the music to sound that way, he would've boosted the bass when making the recording.

The duty of the playback equipment is to faithfully reproduce the sound as the artist intended. If the listener has a different preference, they can tweak their equalizer.

That's the key here. We're not talking about preference. We're talking about a standard. The only audio standard that makes sense is neutral recording and neutral playback. If you make the equipment by default distort the sound a certain way, and that equipment becomes widespread, artists will be tempted to modify their recordings to undo that distortion, screwing over everyone whose equipment doesn't distort the sound.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Piiman on 5/10/2014 9:44:00 AM , Rating: 2
Well If I spent 350.00 in a pair of headphones I'd make them my "go to" also.

By inperfectdarkness on 5/9/2014 5:05:37 AM , Rating: 2
HD439's: $70. Bass-mod takes all of 5 minutes and a small philips head screwdriver. And in a head's up comparison to Beats Studio's ($399), the base is equally "punchy" but with a much broader and clearer soundstage.

I agree that research is key. That said, blindly buying Sennheisers will still yield better results than blindly buying Beats.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Da W on 5/9/2014 8:49:07 AM , Rating: 2
Not relevant.
Beats sells.
Beats is cool.
Apple buys Beats, people buys Apple. Nice buisness decision. Don't really care if other products are technically supperior, their BRANDS are NOT supperior. We live in a branding world my friends.

For that mather Apple should buy Netflix and Nintendo. A fuck it, buy LG too!

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By inperfectdarkness on 5/13/2014 2:59:14 AM , Rating: 2
On what planet does Apple (a company that innovates nothing) owning Nintendo (a company that single-handedly saved an entire industry--not to mention pioneering NUMEROUS advances in the industry)--make any sense?

Apple buying Xbox makes way more sense--if you wanna break it down by innovation.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By GotThumbs on 5/12/2014 12:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually they were designed AND manufactured by Monster Cable.

Dr. Dre was the marketing genius who used product placement on athletes and music industry artists.

They (Monster) failed to retain licensing of the designs (Lees son blew the contract negotiations)

Beats was designed specifically for Hip Hop music.

Not worth the price IMO, but kids don't think/care about cost. Just lots of dumb parents/grandparents IMO.

Marketing and fashion focus are Apples bread and butter IMO.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Mitch101 on 5/8/2014 8:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think they are overpaying for the company. I really cant see this paying off in the long run. They should just be resellers of them instead of owning the company.

If your not about hype pick up a pair of Sennheisers.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By sorry dog on 5/8/2014 9:29:45 PM , Rating: 2
Even low end sennheiser are much better. I like low frequency accented and HD212 pro is excellent for that and were around $120 new. Not sure if made any more so last two pairs I got off ebay for $25. They are my favorite pair of headphones since forever.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Flunk on 5/8/2014 10:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
Sennheiser's warranty is better too, most models are warrantied against everything for 5+ years, including accidental breakage. They totally replaced a set of 3 year old headphones I broke a few years ago.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By drlumen on 5/9/2014 3:30:29 AM , Rating: 2
Plus, even if the warranty is expired, it is easy to get replacement parts for Sennheiser's.

Sennheiser FTW.

They make some good microphones too.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By GotThumbs on 5/12/2014 12:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
They must feel the brand name of "Beats" is worth it.

Technically, there are better headphones in the market, but you don't see any of those hanging around the necks of NBA, NFL, or Hip Hop artists.

It's all about the marketing and Apple made its money on Marketing and not superior technology. Apple is more fashion focused than actually hardware specs and they know their target market are the same.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By inperfectdarkness on 5/9/2014 5:00:02 AM , Rating: 2
Apple doesn't need to improve the quality. This is a match made in heaven. Apple already sells overpriced & underperforming junk that's neatly wrapped in a chic & popular package.

There already are millions of people who enjoy lecturing other about how Beats are "superior"--just like there are millions who do the same thing with Apple. I'm reminded of the South-Park episode about smugness.

The good news is that by putting both of these brands under one roof, the hipster pretentiousness will be even easier ot spot. Maybe Apple will buy Ed Hardy and TapouT next.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By retrospooty on 5/9/2014 1:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
LOL... Style over substance. This is just like Kim and Kanye.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Mitch101 on 5/10/2014 8:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
I dont doubt its a good match for Apple style wise but at 3.2 Billion a lot of sales have to happen before they make back their investment. And the problem with trends is they eventually fade and die. Im not sure Beats is the next Air Jordans but they certainly sold the company for top dollar.

Copy Success. Nothing prevents Sennheiser or any other brand to add a style line and gets a few artists to endorse them.

Beats by Dre x Daniel Tosh: Hear What You Choose Commercial

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Motoman on 5/9/2014 2:20:58 PM , Rating: 2

This is just too funny. Apple buying the scam-product Beats. They're 2 peas in a pod already.

Now if they could just rope in Bose and Monster Cable, they'd be set!

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By ComputerJuice on 5/9/2014 3:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
Wish I could +1 that. 2 more companies relying on idiots who like to drink the kool-aid... sadly those are the apparent majority. Wish I could gain back the hours I've spent "advising" people on what is better cabling & speaker for the money... Not sure why I care tbh, after all I was the one who chose to spend my time trying to give someone sound advice.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Motoman on 5/9/2014 3:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
No one ever goes broke preying on the gullibility of stupid people. See: Apple, Bose, Monster Cable and Beats.

PT Barnum is LOLing in his grave.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By ritualm on 5/10/2014 3:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
Now if they could just rope in Bose and Monster Cable, they'd be set!

If Apple ropes in Bose, Cupertino will earn an immediate lock on the noise-cancellation headphones market. Go to any audio board. Ask for options for good noise-cancellation 'phones. You'll always get Bose as the answer.

Nothing else comes close to a pair of Bose QuietComfort cans. It is that untouchable.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By Motoman on 5/10/2014 7:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
Hi. Here's your sign.

The Bose product was the worst of all designs submitted for a military application. So they just turned them into a consumer product, and all the sheeple buy them.

You're utterly lost in this world if you ever fall for Bose.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By ritualm on 5/12/2014 10:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
The Bose product was the worst of all designs submitted for a military application. So they just turned them into a consumer product, and all the sheeple buy them.

You're utterly lost in this world if you ever fall for Bose.

Bose literally has the noise cancellation market locked down tight. I'm saying this as a Bose hater, Motoman - quit assuming I'm supporting them just because I said something good about them, christ.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By inperfectdarkness on 5/13/2014 2:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
Nah. I'll take Dave Clark noise-cancelling over Bose. Maybe if you aren't flying for a living--Bose works fine for you. I prefer DC's--especially with the Oregon Aero upgrade.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By ipay on 5/12/2014 6:20:04 AM , Rating: 2
The purchase is about the subscribers, not the headphones.

RE: maybe (but doubtful)
By zephyrprime on 5/12/2014 12:38:58 PM , Rating: 2
I am absolutely certain that this will spawn more than 30million know nothing audio snobs just as you say. However, I also hope that Apple increases the quality of Beats headphones. Apple gear is very high quality in manufacture so hopefully they will bring that level of quality to Beats.

as someone said on ars
By sprockkets on 5/8/2014 10:55:46 PM , Rating: 4
"Now all they have to do is buy monster cable and bose."

RE: as someone said on ars
By Brandon Hill on 5/8/2014 11:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Apple already charges $19 for a Lightning cable and $40 for a Thunderbolt cable...

RE: as someone said on ars
By xti on 5/9/2014 11:16:39 PM , Rating: 2
man, i was about to rag on lightning stuff too, then i saw this :(

RE: as someone said on ars
By scbundy on 5/8/2014 11:21:03 PM , Rating: 2
I actually quite like my Bose headphones!

RE: as someone said on ars
By inperfectdarkness on 5/9/2014 5:16:25 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget Skull Candy.

It's just sad that consumers don't even know brands like Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and Shure exist...

RE: as someone said on ars
By ComputerJuice on 5/9/2014 3:52:03 PM , Rating: 2
I largely agree with Skull Candy's pricing online except Skull Candy are priced significantly cheaply in stores. (for me) Locally their products are inexpensive (vs MAP which most people price at online) albeit poor quality but I feel people on average getting what they pay for with Skull Candy.

match made in heaven
By michal1980 on 5/8/2014 8:21:17 PM , Rating: 4
equally hipster companies.

RE: match made in heaven
By tonyswash on 5/8/14, Rating: -1
RE: match made in heaven
By Flunk on 5/8/2014 10:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
The rule is that anyone claiming someone else is a hipster... is a hipster. No body hates hipsters more than hipsters.

RE: match made in heaven
By GulWestfale on 5/8/2014 10:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
RE: match made in heaven
By GulWestfale on 5/8/2014 10:44:29 PM , Rating: 1
uh, sorry hipsters, this one is better. way better.

RE: match made in heaven
By drlumen on 5/9/2014 12:58:36 PM , Rating: 2

Since Beats headphones are over hyped and overpriced, it would stand to reason the company, as a whole, would be as well.

I need apple to buy me out.
By hpglow on 5/8/2014 9:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
If these guys can get billions for overpriced products with too much bass I'm sure I could do something better with a few B. Its also a good thing we have a cure for cancer otherwise Apple having 150+ B in their possesion might be irritating.

I'm sure once reclaimer gets done sucking everyone at Google and the Republican party off he will leave us a useless comment here that will promptly get downvoted and hidden.

RE: I need apple to buy me out.
By ritualm on 5/8/2014 9:30:35 PM , Rating: 4
We should rename Reclaimer77 as Testerguy3.

RE: I need apple to buy me out.
By Spuke on 5/9/2014 12:19:33 PM , Rating: 3
We should rename Reclaimer77 as Testerguy3.
Low blow dude, low blow.

Itunes Radio
By aurareturn on 5/8/2014 7:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
I tried using iTunes Radio but the problem with it is that it doesn't do anything different or better than Pandora. So why would I use it over Pandora?

If it wants to be relevant, make it a separate app - not a feature under the Music app. Next, allow us to skip unlimited songs - something that Pandora can't do. And finally, allow us to play any song we want but at a cheaper price than Spotify.

Right now, iTunes Radio feels like a Microsoft product. It's decently built but it isn't better than established players in the market.

RE: Itunes Radio
By Brandon Hill on 5/8/2014 7:59:38 PM , Rating: 2
If it wants to be relevant, make it a separate app - not a feature under the Music app.

Word on the street is that they plan on doing exactly this with iOS 8.

RE: Itunes Radio
By Flunk on 5/8/2014 8:32:07 PM , Rating: 1
On the flip side, why would you use Pandora? iTunes is the major force in online music sales so why not simplify your life and just use iTunes?

See, they don't even need to make a better product.

Then Apple can sue HTC for royalties
By zero2dash on 5/9/2014 12:35:30 PM , Rating: 2
Surprised no one else has said this already.

HTC puts Beats Audio in many of their phones.
Apple buys Beats, forces HTC to pay royalties, further bleeding HTC dry (in addition to all the other typical Apple patent lawsuit nonsense).

By drlumen on 5/9/2014 12:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe. But considering HTC was a majority stakeholder at one point (they may still have about 25%), it is highly likely that they will negotiate a lifetime, royalty free license as part of the sale. For whatever that is really worth.

The Trifecta
By Dirus on 5/9/2014 12:00:54 AM , Rating: 2
After this they only need to purchase Bose and they got the holy trinity of over-hyped over-priced under performing audio hardware.

Beats in a Brand
By vertigo1 on 5/9/2014 7:03:54 AM , Rating: 2
You have to remember Beats is just a brand, their hardware is Monster based so it is probably overpriced and _not_ _that_ _good_

So Apple buying them is for something other than their headphones, it probably for their brand and probably their music streaming service.

Beats Audio Acquisition
By Middleman on 5/9/2014 10:12:43 AM , Rating: 2
Money well spent else where. This does not make financial sense.

They need work
By Torgog on 5/9/2014 10:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
My daughter's boyfriend is an electrical engineer with Beats. He agrees that the design of the product needs work, although Beats recently hired numerous engineers to perform such a task. His headphones of choice, as are mine, are Sennheisers.

By Roy2001 on 5/12/2014 12:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
What is beats audio? Isn't it eq? It always reminds me Monster cable :)

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