How Apple can “Beat” the Competition

♦ This post is one of the Best of 2014

Apple has a lot to gain from their rumored purchase of Beats by Dr. Dre.  Even if you don’t think you know what Beats are, you’ve probably seen people wearing them.  The super-trendy headphones aren’t cheap either – they start at $169.95.  I don’t understand why the average Joe would need headphones that expensive (though I could understand someone in the music business wanting them), but Dr. Dre must know something I don’t.  I see those headphones everywhere.

So obviously, if the headphones are selling, it’s a good buy for Apple – just because it’s a money maker.  However, I think Apple has their eye on something else: Beats Music.

Beats Music is a recently launched subscription streaming music service.  With the rise of Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming music services (both paid and free), it is clear that people are becoming less and less inclined to buy individual songs and albums, and instead stream music buffet style.  We saw the same thing happen to movies with the rise of Netflix, and I personally think that streaming music is just getting started.  I for one know that internet radio is great when I’m really tired of all my music (even though I have a ton of it).  From what I’ve heard about Beats Music, it’s a great service.  Like most other internet radio services, Beats Music has computer algorithms to determine what kinds of music a person likes based on their listening history.  What’s more unique is that Beats brought in industry experts to hand-craft playlists of songs that go great together.  Supposedly, this features makes all the difference when listening.

Last fall, Apple tried to get into the streaming music business when they launched iTunes Radio.  I’ve never used iTunes Radio, but right off the bat I can see the benefits of using an Apple service.  For starters, you don’t have to make any new accounts, since pretty much everyone with an iOS device already has an Apple ID.  Second, I’m sure Apple made it very convenient to buy the song you’re currently listening to, in case you decide you want to own it.

For whatever reason, however, iTunes Radio hasn’t really caught on.  It may be because so many people already use Pandora, and they just didn’t bother trying out iTunes Radio.  I’ve also heard that Apple started iTunes Radio and then sort of let it fall by the wayside, instead of continually making improvements like every new service needs.

This is why Apple needs Beats.  Just as Netflix has revolutionized the way we watch movies, somebody is going to revolutionize the way we listen to music.  Apple wants to be that somebody, and Beats by Dr. Dre might be just what they need to succeed.  ••