Despite this subject being discussed to death, the real purpose of Apple’s acquisition of Beats–a transaction that was finally closed last week–is still something of a mystery. Fast Company thinks it’s all about the music.
As the child of an elementary school teacher, I was able to borrow a Macintosh desktop computer from the library every summer. But even at the age of nine, I was keenly aware that there was nothing especially cool about a Mac. It was the mid-’90s–the era of Power Rangers and Pokémon–and when friends came over they walked right past the sleek, white cube. (“Wanna play Number Munchers on my Mac?” “Uh, no. Let’s go outside.”) It wasn’t until several years later that I got my hands on a piece of Apple technology that made me–and Apple–seem hip in the eyes of my peers: the iPod. (It was so desirable, in fact, that my first one got stolen.)
Before the iPod and iTunes, Apple was a respected, innovative computer company, but it was still just a computer company–a brand that made things most people thought of as tools for homework or running a small business. Music is what turned Apple into a pop-culture phenomenon.
Suddenly iPods were showing up in Mary J. Blige videos, kids were ripping their entire CD collections (remember CD collections?), and a series of ubiquitous Apple commercials were boosting the careers of actual bands such as Feist and CSS.
That fundamental shift might help explain why Apple recently shelled out $3.2 billion for Beats Electronics,
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