Apple has indeed purchased Beats, which includes both Beats Audio hardware and Beats Music, the streaming radio service that was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and longtime music industry exec Jimmy Iovine. The deal was reported to be in the works earlier this month, and was said to be worth an estimated $3.2 billion at the time, thought a recent New York Postreport said it was cut to $3 billion after Apple completed its due diligence.
Apple typically makes smaller purchases of startups and companies most people have never heard of, so Beats is a considerable change of course for the company. The last really high profile acquisition Apple made was probably of NeXT back when it bought that company to bring Steve Jobs back into the fold.
Much speculation has been made around what the Beats acquisition brings to Apple, which already has an existing streaming radio business and a very healthy third-party ecosystem when it comes to headphones, Bluetooth speakers and other peripherals. Apple doesn’t yet sell on- or over-the-ear style headphones, however, or its own speakers, and these are areas where competitors like Samsung currently operate to support their smartphone devices. The company also reportedly enjoyed Beats’ ability to convert free trial users of its service to paid subscribers, according to a recent Bloomberg report. And bringing on Beats’ top executive talent, which includes Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, was also said to be an important factor.
Given the stature of this acquisition, Apple is being a bit more communicative about the deal than it has about others in the past. In a release accompanying the news, it notes that it will continue to operate Beats as a separate brand within the company, in a way similar to how it runs its Filemaker software business. Also as part of the deal, Beats co-founders Iovine and Dre secure executive positions on Apple’s team.