What thought leaders think of Apple/Beats

beats audio and apple  opinion 200wThe rumor hasn’t been refuted yet, and the entire music-tech world is treating it as fact, soon to be manifested. Apple will (reportedly) acquire Beats Electronics, including Beats Music.

There is no shortage of opinion about this potential blockbuster deal. RAIN solicited comments from thought leaders, and harvested some of the most provocative perspectives in other media outlets, to create a landscape of opinion and speculation.

Michael Robertson

Founder, Radio Search Engine and DAR.fm:

“This seems likes a positive outcome for Beats given how late it is to the subscription party. The market cannot support the number of music subscription services out there today so some must fold or find an acquirer. Apple riches make them the ultimate sugar daddy. It’s a much bigger question mark for Apple who has no track record of successfully digesting the acquisition of a mature company.”

Mark Mulligan

Co-Founder, MiDIA Consulting

“Apple has always been in the business of selling music for the business of selling hardware, and the potential acquisition must be considered in those terms. With download sales declining and subscriptions gaining traction, Apple has been locked in a process of soul searching, trying to work out what it can do to remain relevant in the digital music business in order to remain relevant in the device business. Beats is a ‘if you can’t beat them, buy them’ solution.” [READ]

Paul Sanders

Founder, The State51 Conspiracy

“Take the Appleness out of the deal, and consider it as the kind of thing a sovereign wealth fund might do if it had far more cash than it could find investment opportunities for, and it seems to me to make a bit more sense. Oh the trials and tribulations of being locked in a high price / high margin ghetto — when the massive opportunities in the world are most among the poorer 5 billion of us!”

Doc Searls

Author, academic, and entrepreneur

“Proof the Steve is Dead […] to Steve Jobs there was only one brand that mattered: Apple.” [READ]

Bob Lefsetz

The Lefsetz Letter

“The overanalysis is mind-boggling. Tim Cook is an operations guy, he’s clueless, the company has no vision and this is evidence of it […] It appears that without Steve Jobs, Apple is nowhere.” [READ]

John Biggs

in TechCrunch

“Remember that it made no sense for Apple to buy SoundJam MP, an MP3 player and media sync system, in 1999. The company made a basic desktop music player [MP] and was relatively unknown in the market […] On January 1, 2001, SoundJam MP turned into iTunes 1.0.”

Janko Roettgers


“Twelve months from now, the digital music world is going to look very different. Instead of startups trying to convince consumers to spend $10 for music per month, it will be dominated by big companies trying to convince consumers to buy their devices and buy into their platforms.” [READ]

Peter Kafka

from Re/Code

“The decline in iTunes music revenue isn’t material for Apple, which now makes much more from the sales of apps than it does from music and other media. But apparently Tim Cook thinks the company needs its own streaming service instead of one run by outsiders.” [READ]

Gavin Todd

Company Developer at Shopwindow

“I think it just shows how obvious the difference in vision and leadership is between Apple and Google. Beats is the same price that Google paid this year for Nest. The difference in product, people (ex-Apple), scope, and the tapped-out potential of Beats and untapped potential of “the internet of things” is night and day. Goodbye Apple.”

Casey Rae

Executive Director, Future of Music Coalition

“On the road to growing streaming into something that could feasibly turn a profit, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that there are other ways to make money. Apple was/is a lifestyle hardware company. Beats Electronics is a powerful lifestyle brand. The downturn in download sales means Apple has a brief window of opportunity to get into the streaming market with a built-out service that can be easily integrated into their OS. It’s still a walled garden, but there’s just more walls.”

Jon Maples

Digital music and content creator

“There are two numbers that you need to pay attention to in order to make sense of Apple’s breathtaking acquisition of Beats Electronics. Neither of them is the rumored $3.2 billion price. They are 13.3 and 800 million […] The first number is the percentage that music downloads have decreased in Q1 of this year compared with 2013 […] The second number refers to the 800 million iTunes accounts, most with credit cards on file.” [READ]

Stephen Hill

Founder, Hearts of Space (hos.com)

Apple is buying a *brand* that complements and extends its own brand.

Alex Wen

Filmmaker & Technologist of KCW™ Studios

“Guess companies really are like people, middle-age crisis does demand a shiny new sports car to compensate for not being able to perform as once able, even with Viagra.”

Kurt Hanson

Founding Editor, RAIN News & Founder, AccuRadio

“In my opinion, ironically, I believe the increasing capacity of the iPod over the years made the decline of the iTunes music download store inevitable. Once your shirt-pocked size music player was able to hold 10,000 or more songs, it became economically unreasonable that you could fill it with songs for which you had to pay $1 each.  Today, now that an always-Internet-connected iPhone is your music-listening device, an on-demand streaming service may be a better solution for consumers.”

Jennifer Lane

CEO, RAIN Enterprises & author of Audio4cast blog

“This is a white flag that downloads and iPods are done.”

Brad Hill


  1. A mediocre headphone company with a failing streaming business… Beats is not worth three billion, not even ONE. It does prove that Apple is stuck in an innovation ditch and its leadership is not just dizzy, but fallen and can’t get up.

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