May 12, 2014

Will Apple's effort to buy cool backfire?

Posted in Global Economy · 44 comments ·
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Do you have teenage children? I have one such darling creature and another one soon to screech into his teens, so I know all you need to know about Beats.

About this time last year, I became aware of the Beats craze in Dublin, when both my children requested these ludicrously expensive headphones. The sight of white, middle-class south Dublin kids doing their best ghetto pimp-roll, outsized headphones covering half their heads, trousers slung down somewhere around their knees, is not only comical, but is exactly why Apple is going to pay more than $3 billion for Beats in yet another mega technology deal.

Rapper Dr Dre (the co-owner of Beats) will get a massive payout, at a time when Apple is trying to keep ahead of trends in music listening. This is Apple’s biggest deal ever and it makes a distinct switch from Steve Jobs’ preferred strategy of organic growth.

Apple’s i-Tunes revenue has plateaued and millions are switching to cloud-based, file sharing apps like Spotify. Beats offers such a service. However, what is really driving Apple’s acquisition is its need to be “cool”. For years, Apple has been cool and hip and the device of choice for the discerning. However, Samsung has stolen these clothes and Apple’s management, largely middle-aged white men, know it’s hard to get that back, unless of course you buy it from someone else, which is where the hip-hop cachet of Dr Dre and his Beats come in.

Apple wants to get back inside the heads and hoodies of wannabe gangsta kids all over the world and this is how it’s going to do it. But at $3.2 billion there clearly is a hefty price tag of “the rebirth of cool” – particularly for a company with only $800 million of total revenues. But then again, even a whopping $3.2 billion only represents 2 per cent of Apple’s current cash and investments balance.

Sometimes when you have so much money to play with, even incredible amounts of money seem small beer.

The question that is niggling me is whether Steve Jobs would have bought Beats. Would a ruthless technologist, like Jobs, splash out on a product that looks like such a marketing trick?

If Apple wants to be cool again, that’s fair enough, but the problem with cool is that it is transitory. What is cool and fashionable today, is not necessarily cool tomorrow. It can only remain cool if there is substance.

The problem with trying to win over teenagers is that they are fickle. In order to get inside their heads temporarily, it may be enough to have celebrity rappers endorsing some product. But in order to stay inside their heads, to build real loyalty, you have to have something really different technologically.

The reason Apple is Apple is because its products were/are truly revolutionary. The iPod, the iPad and the iPhone were all extraordinary pieces of technology, as well as being brilliant designs. Much is made about Apple’s design but the technology and what marketing people call the “user experience” – as well as the design – were completely superior to any competitors at the time.

The same can’t be said about Beats. The Beats headphones are a fad. They have no superior technology and they look and feel like an “out-of-the-box” set of Chinese headphones with a bit of celebrity rapper branding wrapped around them.

So Apple is buying a fad, not a piece of cutting edge technology.

Over the years, I’ve worked with lots of professional sound engineers, and a quick poll of those lads last Friday suggested there is nothing different about Beats. Those guys use the audio technology for TV, recordings or cinema of the likes of the German company Sennheiser, which is a reputed maker of quality headphones and had revenues of around $800 million in 2012 – so not much different from Beats but with a wider presence around the world. Sennheiser has a long list of patents. Would that have been a better buy for Apple?

If you go on audiophile websites they are almost universally critical of Beats’ technology. Despite the fact that Beats dominates the market for high-end headphones, there’s significant doubt regarding the audio quality of these headphones. Audiophile site after audiophile site says that, apart from heavy bass, Beats sells because of branding, not because of audio quality.

When interviewed in 2011, Tyll Hertsens, the editor in chief of InnerFidelity.com, a site for audiophiles, said of Beats: “In terms of sound performance, they are among the worst you can buy. They are absolutely, extraordinarily bad.”

And if you take the fact that Beats had just 30 employees back in 2010, it seems obvious that Beats took the out-of-the-box route to build its products.

But maybe the teenage lad on the Dart doesn’t care about the sound quality of the headphones, as long as the good-looking girl sitting opposite him sees him wearing the trendy Beats headsets. That’s the power of branding. But can it last?

And would Jobs have bought the company for €3.2 billion?

Those who know about these things would say: no way.

There are also other audio brands Apple could have bought for technical know-how and quality. For the kind of money Apple put forward, it could basically have bought true audio knowledge.

This also may signal a massive change by Apple from being a quality technology and design company to a firm that is panicking and chasing fads. One of the problems with having such a huge war chest of cash is that it is easy to buy practically anything. Could it be that all that glistens will now catch Apple’s eye?

If Apple goes down this road, it could be disastrous for the company because every investment will not add to the wealth of the company but will destroy it.

Today, because of the celebrity status of Dr Dre, much is being made of him being the world’s first billionaire rappe.r. And good for him. But the worrying thing is that Apple is buying a brand which is successful not because of technology but because of marketing. Marketing is transitory, not permanent.

Nothing summed this up for me more than the day my son arrived home with his new Beats when we were on holiday. He’d bought fake ones in a stall in Croatia for less than a tenner. When so called cutting-edge technology can be ripped off so easily, you know the product hasn’t got much of a shelf life.


  1. Bamboo

    Thanks David. I remember Motorola did the same thing around about 10 years Xmas. They bought all sort of mobile phones that doesn’t have the look and feel of Motorola. Is this the end of Apple?

  2. SGarvey

    €10 in Croatia? We were ripped off! We paid €15 in Portugal…

    The point about being currently cool is well made. Where do Beats go from here? How are they going to remain dominant in a very transient market.
    All it takes is for Kanye West or Jay-Z to bring out their own headphones and the whole market will switch. If they see Dr Dre making absolutely huge money from this you can understand it if they looked for an opportunity to do the same.
    It seems very unnecessary risk.

  3. Original-Ed

    It’s obviously a marketing ploy to win over a new generation to the Apple Brand. I remember Jobs gave a an Apple 2 to every school in America and that turned out to be a good move. It was at a time when IBM were the masters of the universe in computer terms.
    As for the technology in the Beat headphones, it’s only run of the mill – the larger the diaphragm the more air is displaced and the better the bass. In my younger days, I spent four years in a lab in London working on developing sound reproduction equipment – it was a good number, spending all day analysing the work of artists, including the Beatles, and getting paid for it. Back then, Bridge over Troubled Water from Simon and Garfunkel was the ultimate test for any system.

  4. Well given the fact that Gary Barlow, a private citizen is being dragged across the coals in the UK media today for legally arranging his own tax affairs, while Apple Inc. and their mates in Google, eBay, Amazon, Starbucks etc. practice tax evasion on a monumental scale (they are the real welfare scammers), I sincerely hope it’s the end for Apple and their pile of shite products, none of which I would ever use.

  5. Irishgeezah

    The acquisition of Beats by Apple is a marriage made in heaven. The merger of two companies that charge their customers a premium for the fashion accessories they sell!

  6. tlarkin

    You haven’t mentioned Beats new streaming service Beats Music.

    Its likely to have been a key strategic consideration as apple are struggling in the area at present.

    The headphone business may be a distraction from the real deal.

    • He did mention it:

      “Apple’s i-Tunes revenue has plateaued and millions are switching to cloud-based, file sharing apps like Spotify. Beats offers such a service.”

  7. verybearish

    To be fair to APPLE they defined cool in the smart phone market and created a monster of an industry in the tablet market also. While i agree that the headphones are over priced tat I concede that I am distinctly uncool and by no means the target market that the headphones are aimed at, however what is interesting about the purchase of beats is everyone is looking at just the headphones product but i think they actually have a half decent music streaming business also. Streaming is (or has )rapidly replacing/ ed downloads as preferred medium for the tech generation. Apple have made a good purchase here, access to a streaming platform to compliment (and probably phase their download business) and also the brand image that beats created all over the world. Beats compliments Apple in that they created this niche for overpriced headphones amongst the young and others followed …..im not sure of the name but 50cent also promotes a set of headphones that look very similar, now where have i heard of a company that created a niche ( cash cow) and transformed an industry and many others followed …… on a final note i do note know the numbers myself but DMW mentions $800 mln as sales , a deal valued at 4 times sales is not that incredulous when you look at what has gone on in the tech industry in the not so distant past……at least they have actual revenues !!

  8. verybearish

    Just saw T larkin comments, apologies for rehashing it!

  9. verybearish

    Also Apple has been harassed by many a pundit for not putting its war chest to work, when it does buybacks its gets accused of financial engineering, when it buys companies it gets accused of a dumb purchase, tough break dammed if you do and dammed if you dont…….This is a company that has defined a whole generation and affected the way a lot of people live their lives and made fist fulls of cash doing it, it aint going anywhere soon

  10. I hate using headphones other than for mixing. Even using Apple Lossless codec and an i-Pod you need a headphone amp and decent headphones. Even then there are problems with the quality of components so the real audio buffs have been hacking Apple for years:

    http://redwineaudio.com/mods/imod

    The same cost/benefit/profit issues apply to Beats. They aren’t up to anything other than posing. You can be sure Dre doesn’t use them in his studio other than for photo-shoots!

    I say this a musician with acute hearing, which is both a blessing and a a curse. However, a LOT of people either haven’t trained their ears to hear any difference or have damaged their hearing listening to Dr Dre whilst on the tube, etc. Almost everyone can train their ear, just as almost everyone can hold a tune, other than the hard-core on X-Fcuktor, but I don’t advise it unless you’re seriously obsessed with music like me, as there’s no going back. In the same way that a karaoke mic on a cruise ship isn’t going to make you shine as a singer, a pair of tatty headphones isn’t going to let you hear any level of music worth listening to. Nothing wrong with i-Devices for YouTube and stuff, but ‘music’? Ahem!

    The problem has been that high-end hi-fi has always been an absurd cult and now that storage is cheap for digital players, suddenly the tech companies admit begin admitting they lied all along by upgrading their digital files from 128 to 256 to 320kps. People use to mock me when I said the original rips for i-Tunes were unlistenable, until I asked them why they’d triimodpled the file size “if nobody can hear the difference”. Suddenly there was Silence.

    • Neil Young is the cutting edge in all this and I predict his Toberlone-shaped Pono music player device will instantly become the new hipster accessory, at least amongst those who actually want to listen to music and only use an i-Pod with noise cancelling headphones to mute the babble of other travellers when listening to “The Symphony Of The Streets” becomes overwhelming. And Boomers have as much cash as Rappers, at least in the UK where they can now cash in their pensions to buy top-end audio whilst doing the cruise circuit/SKI stuff (spend kids inheritance…sigh)Group now actually peform their hippy/punk rebel music n Caribbean cruise-ships from Miami.You couldn’t make it up…

      It’s still not possible to do “serious listening” to music on the streets as it’s dangerous to have an immersive audio experience. So, if Beats are as good as claimed, they should be banned other than at home, outlawed like jay-walking was, and texting whilst walking and chewing gum soon will be. The desperate young people “sharing” their music on the tube through leaky headphones are only interested in you knowing that they’re listening to the latest fad musical atrocity, just as they are desperate that you grant them ‘brand recognition’ for their expensive trainers and clothes. It’s all compensation displacement activity for not having a job/house/future due to Boomer greed. Speaking of Boomers:

      Digital music is a mistake. Neil Young is out to change that, but without a valve amplifier and 180gm vinly I don’t see how it’s possible. Let’s see if this is another luxury branding scam like the ‘celebrity’ perfumes, trainers and headphones. Nobody can make money from recorded music anymore, even Kate Bush has accepted she has to find a live revenue stream, or so some say. I think it’s more mysterious than that, but again, we’ll see….

      http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-neil-young-pono-music-kickstarter-20140311-story.html

      ps: I don’t listen to popular music anymore. It’s over as a cultural concept.Other than bragging about going to see Kate Bush 3 times, of course. To say good-bye….

    • “triimodpled”? WTF! Tripled.

  11. Adelaide

    I once visited an Apple factory in Shenzhen China back in the day they were rolling out their first iPhone. The factory made iPhone accessories like straps, covers etc and then later I recognised these same products in their Apple store in Dublin selling for premium prices. It was my first business trip outside Europe and to describe it as a factory would be to describe Auschwitz as a detention centre. It truly shook me to the core as I had literally stepped into a living nightmare. Nothing but nothing could excuse that hellhole. That was my ‘Wake Up!’ moment. That truly popped the bubble of my non-awareness, from then on I had to understand what in God’s name is wrong with the world that can produce such horrors and in understanding it I could hope help to change it.

    As an aside, from a scientific historical canon it is ignorant to describe the advent of the web and smart devices as revolutionary. I would urge anyone to read ‘The Turnaround Challenge’ (OUP) for a proper analysis.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Adelaide,

      Naomi Klein’s work no logo would really apeal to you.

      Michael.

    • Deco

      I boycott Apple products as a result of the disgrace of what goes on in the Foxconn factories.

    • Bamboo

      There is also the issue of men and women working in appalling conditions in the construction in Asia.
      ALL the physical construction work in Asia, hotels, offices, housing estates and roadworks are done by the poorest people. They live in appalling conditions at the construction sites. They have to build their own accommodation and beds before construction starts. These are small wooden boxes with tin roofs.

      With such high average temperatures during the day you can imagine that these boxes get extremely unbearable to sleep in. The lucky ones have a fan to make the nights bearable.
      Should I stop sleeping in hotels?
      Not to mention the workers on palm oil plantations. The list never ends.

      • May be there will be a real job or two in Ireland

        from lemetropoleCafe.com
        Ireland:

        Irish government plans to use €200M from sale of State companies to fund stimulus plans: The Irish Times reported that the government plans to use €200M from the sale of State assets to fund road, house building and tourism projects that it says will create jobs and stimulate economic activity. The article said that the sale of assets such as Bord Gais Energy, a number of ESB power plants and the National Lottery license, is expected to raise €1.4B. It noted that under the terms of the EU-IMF troika deal, the government can use some of the cash raised for job creation.

  12. michaelcoughlan

    “Will Apple’s effort to buy cool backfire?”

    It all depends and what way you look at the question. Example; if there is a head the ball in charge and he can borrow money very cheaply in the short term (which he can at the moment) to rapidly grow the share price in a combined entity he stands to make a killing in bonuses and share options.
    What does he care if the whole thing collapses in 2 or 3 years time? Remember David when Tony OReily borrowed up to me bollicks from Sorros to buy Eircom? He landed it with an enormous debt mountain, talked through his hole about maximising share holder value (himself primarily) and sold out 3 ½ years later to make a killing and paid back Soros. Meanwhile back at the farm the real shareholders (Irish fall guy public) got another raping.

    Twisted. Isn’t It?

  13. ps200306

    To those who wonder have Apple stopped innovating, I ask: when did they start? I never could understand how the iPod name became as synonymous with MP3 players as Hoovers once were with vacuum cleaners. The iPod was neither first nor best. Worst of all it was, like most Apple products, horribly closed: no swappable drive, no expansion ports, you couldn’t even change the battery yourself. Just shows what you can do with a piece of white plastic made in China when you get the Apple marketing machine behind you.

    • Agreed, I found their products crap any time I had the misfortune to have to use them.

    • StephenKenny

      They started innovating, rather than inventing, with the Apple 1, in the 1970s. Then the Macintosh in 1984, more innovation (yes, I know that Xerox made the invention – anyone ever used a Xerox desktop computer?), along with a laser printer and network that just worked out of the box.
      The iPod was just the most useful of the mp3 players – standard file format (remember, back in the 1990s we all had to put up with the wretched format wars – Microsoft even tried to patent file formats, and of course Sony had their proprietary everything), it held enough to actually be useful, and it had a UI that was just easy to use. It was a better mp3 player, and that’s why it did well.
      The iPhone changed the mobile phone industry completely – he got the usability right, which included the mix and limitations of functionality. Everyone is now just copying. iPad, Macbook Air.
      Apple Shops have shaken up retail because Steve Jobs realised, over 10 years ago, that shops aren’t just places to sell things, and certainly won’t be in the future. They’re places to enable people to interact with your stuff, learn, get help and support, and just hang out, playing with the tech. Actually, that isn’t an invention either, in the later 70s and 80s, every main street had one of those – a ‘Home Computer’ store.

      Steve Jobs had an ability to look at the tech industry as a user-facing industry, rather than just as a purveyor of beige boxes for people obsessed with Excel. And if you think that’s easy, I suggest you look at the Windows 8 nonsense, Android before the iPhone, and pretty much every other effort to ‘innovate’ in the user space that’s plagued the computer industry over the past 25 years.

      In answer to the question, my view of Apple buying Beats is that it’s a very un-Apple thing to do, which means Apple is a very un-Apple company. Without Steve Jobs, I think it’ll fade away.

      • Yeah, Windows 8 is a joke – what were they thinking?!

        We are still in the Dark Ages unfortunately.

        • Bamboo

          Stephen/Adam,

          The latest environment that I worked with was Windows XP – so some time ago. Before that SUN microsystems (UNIX) environment. I needed that to do the real text-based stuff like scripting and macros.
          I also used Steve Job’s NeXt machine from the early and mid 90’s when it comes to publishing and graphics. When I saw that NeXt machine for the first time it I realize that Steve Job was a not only a genius but he is also dead ordinary time traveler – 20 years ahead.
          The sleek and lustrous design of the NeXT machine and printers, the packaging of the hardware and the printed manuals that came with it was 20 years ahead of its time as well. Even the use of upper and lower case in the name “NeXT” is something new for that time. He then used the “i” as in iPOD and iPhones as we all know that has become an invention in itself. Others have copied these concepts.
          Steve Jobs has a tremendous interest and talent in design and typography and he is in my opinion really the Frank Lloyd Wright of our modern times. Like Frank Lloyd Wright he has set the standards of design for the next 50 years at least. No doubt we all agree.

          At a later stage in my career, when it came to graphics and animation I had no option than use a Lion machine simply because it doesn’t hang as much. I still miss using the Windows environment as I am used to use my shortcuts.
          But – thank God – I am done with scripting as it has gone way over my head.

          Cheers

      • +1 Was about to comment but this is covers it. Apple’s/Job’s genius was to understand that the product isn’t its features, the product is the interface. True for the iPod, true for the iPhone (I have never owned either of these devices, but I’ve benefited from their innovations in many other products I have used)

        Buying cool is indeed quite un-apple. Stealing it is cheaper and easier, as Xerox understand. Apple have always defined by themselves what is cool for their target audience, and then sold it to ‘em. With Beats, they are about 5 years too late…

        • Actually they are not buying “cool”, they are buying a share of the (struggling) streaming market, just in case it begins to threaten iTunes, so its pretty smart, just not very imaginative.

  14. Deco

    As somebody who boycots Apple products, over the issue of the treatment of the workers in Shenzen, none of this matters to me.

    I will not be subsidizing any of acquisitions by Apple.

    As a matter of conscience.

    • Same here Deco, but my mother has an iPad to keep in touch with family and friends overseas (especially my little girl in the States) and having tried it out a bit, it’s shockingly useless for anyone wanting to do any ‘real’ work.

    • Unfortunately, the same factories that produce Apple products produce numerous other brands of electronic goods, including this non-Apple laptop. It’s the same with clothing, unless you can afford top-end ethical designer bling, you have little choice but to purchase from Matalan/Primark (Pennies for Penny’s disposable t-shirts, etc) despite the outrages which unfolded in Bangladesh. Soon both i-devices and cheap clothing will be re-engineered by robotic engineering production processes and then we’re into an entirely different scenario. Oh, and Google are in it up to their necks. As the whole NSA/GCHQ imbroglio reveals, these ‘hipster’ corporations are just dress-down friday versions of the old suited and booted titans. Only ingenues in San Francisco lofts could be taken in by such marketing:

      Google, Foxconn team to build ROBOT ARMY

      “Back in 2011 a Xinhua report claimed it had 10,000 robots on the production line with plans for one million by 2014.

      Robots, of course, have the added bonus of not requiring sleep, lodgings or running off to tell labour rights groups about alleged mistreatment”

      Or commit suicide by jumping from their ‘lodgings’….

      China is building a war machine and “western” corporations are part of their Game Theory stragegy for a multi-polar stage-post on the roadmap to Chinese Hegemony. Soon the same Corporations will be ordered to Onshore production in Alabama and Limerick when America awakes….oh…..that’s already happening. Who knew? Sorry to go ‘off-topic’, let’s get back to Beats.

      I remember last year looking out over Dublin Bay as someone told me about the Pearl Delta system. As I looked out to sea I had a vision of a series of nuclear flashes lighting up the sky across the sea vapourising the “Saxons” and pondered if Dublin would be regarded as ‘neutral’.

      Then a beautiful dog brought me back to reality by insisting on me playing ball.

      “World Peace Is None Of Your Business”

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/12/foxconn_google_robot_partners/

  15. I am currently listening to a song called “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” by Morrissey on Spotify which is encoded using Ogg-Vorbis to avoid royalty payment to Fraunhofer for the MPEG Layer-3 Audio Codec.

    On headphones, the ‘free’ service is painful and no better than a bad transistor radio. There is no headphone circuitry in existence which can remedy the source sound problems. Lipstick pigs and Beats headphones… The weakest link in the audio chain….is the source.

    The ‘premium’ service is slightly better, particularly when monitored on Bluetooth speakers. There is currently no CD/Wav/BlueRay audio version of this track available and if the music industry get it’s way, then CDs will either vanish or become prohibitively expensive like 180g vinyl.

    Last night we went to the Birmingham LG Arena as a treat/break from revision for exams, exposing ourselves to the Katy Perry spectacular. Everything was compressed, the guitars, the drums, the vocals. But it was still so much better than listening to Spotify. And Kitty Kat was, like, WAAAAAY AWESOME!

    For those afflicted by enhanced hearing, these digital compression artefacts sound like white nose. For us, this is all part of the long road back to vinyl sobriety which The Loudness Wars represent. Vinyl is audio petroleum, from the blood of the earth. It cannot be digitised. If it can, then Neil Young will be the next music billionaire with Pono.

    “World peace is none of your business
    So would you, kindly keep your nose out
    The rich must profit and get richer
    And the poor must stay poor”

    https://play.spotify.com/search/world%20peace%20morrissey

    • StephenKenny

      FLAC is an interesting audio format- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLAC

      For myself, I don’t think I’ve ever been as un-nerved by an international situation as I am at the moment. The reason is that, judged by their actions over the last 15 years, the US & UK are run by people who very possibly believe it is possible to ‘win’ a nuclear war.

      • Media Monkey supports FLAC and is the escape hatch from iTunes:

        http://www.mediamonkey.com/

        I’m looking at Monkey’s Audio codec (different to Media Monkey)alongside PONO but I prefer vinyl, even though most of my collection was stolen/”borrowed” when I was a young squatter in London. I can’t afford to replace all those Led Zepp/Sabbath albums at today’s prices so a digital solution would be heaven. But I’ve also realised I suffer ‘ear fatigue’ from modern digital noise pollution and muzak so I often use ear-plugs in shops to escape the nonsense. Noise pollution ‘music’ is omnipresent and oppressive these days. When I rule the world there will be silence legally enforced everywhere except night-clubs and sound-proof basements.

        Steve Jobs ignored his own technology and listened exclusively to vinyl at home.

        My son has started at Uni and his new g/friend is doing Politics & International Relations and we had a dreadful discussion on Game Theory and Nuclear War over dinner, which was an unusual way to meet possible new in-laws!

        Industrial civilisation will Collapse over the next 100 years unless there’s a miracle. All these gizmos and gadgets are just Bread & Circus distractions and so is most of the nonsense ‘music’ they are used to listen to.

  16. Adelaide

    Sleazy News Headline of the Month
    “Son of Joe Biden appointed to board of major Ukrainian gas company”

    (*also Joe Biden’s senior campaign adviser in 2004, financier Devon Archer)

    http://rt.com/business/158660-biden-son-ukraine-company/

  17. Daraflats

    Well put. I looked at the Company last summer, when it attempted to do a dividend distribution (which failed – despite widening considerably). The implied EV from the failed transaction is significantly lower than Apple’s purchase price, which is alarming. Furthermore, the Company’s top line growth has significantly deteriorated, indicating it is coming to the end of the fad. At the time of the failed dividend, the Company stated that it’s new ‘Pill’ product would drive growth and help diversify revenue. I’d be interested to see if that has been the case over the past year. This is sloppy execution/timing by Apple, they should have bought 2 years ago for 1/5 of the price. They probably could have even bought for 1/2 the price last summer. That said, at least Apple can put some of its ‘restricted’ cash to use.

  18. Bamboo

    All these devices have an aging processor. Young cool people buy the latest and greatest to stay young and up to date. A teenager working on a Windows XP system is either a hardcore geek, an innocent or someone who doesn’t mind to look like an grand parent. Apple knows the fashion industry very well. When the iPod came out with the distinctive white wire and earpiece, it was the coolest thing how to decorate your head.
    In my younger years you define and express yourself by what type of music you listen to. Is it Motown, CSNY, Bob Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones or local artists? A Sony system with enormous black speaker boxes was the latest and greatest to have in your bedroom. Usually one person gets an LP for his/her birthday or for Xmass and that LP will do the rounds and is copied over and over again till it gets back to the owner. Apart from that musicians get a lot of mileage from their music, especially the American musicians.
    The brown wooden look was then replaced by an industrial black and chrome look. So cool! Then the cassette recorder came on the market. A pen or pencil is a crucial instrument to wind back or forward the cassette. It will show your age if you know exactly what I mean. Then German and Swedish manufacturers became popular with even “better” quality. What you wear at the time also comes hand in hand with your taste of music. One’s LP collection was not quantity but “quality”.

    It also doesn’t really cost an arm and a leg to look cool and to display what tribe you belong to. It is only when Levi’s jeans became the cool thing to wear it all changed in my opinion. One single TV ad did the damage. Levi’s is the lucky brand on the global market. It is just a pair of jeans but every kid had to have it. Then the footwear battle of Addidas and Nike started. The rest is history. My kids were brought up with these battles. You’re a winner if you wore any of these items and music taste became a secondary issue to deal with in a kid’s daily life. Nike and Levi’s also dominate any parent financial worries until the parents themselves finally fell for it and started wearing these items. The rest is history again.

    Only a handful of kids are passionate about audio quality now days and most have not really trained their little ears. What you listen to is now hidden from the general public and one can’t express and especially visually display oneself anymore through what your taste of music is.

    The last couple of year’s head fashion is becoming so much more crucial to look cool and stay young. The jeans and footwear battle is now in the background and it is now time to target the head fashion.
    A Sony or a ZennHeiser headphone became items only for hardcore audiophiles and doesn’t do much for other untrained ears of the younger public. Apple knows the importance of head decoration and fashion. The Beats headphone is so far the latest winner in this battle -like Levi’s. I don’t know who the winner is between Nike and Addidas.

    I am actually very surprised at how long it took Apple to go into the headphone mania. It has been there for the last couple of years and Apple stood by their little white wired and their little white earpieces. Liam is correct in saying: “they are buying a share of the (struggling) streaming market” but Apple is also letting go the existing Apple look and feel and entering a new battle.

  19. Bamboo

    Oops! Didn’t mean to post such a long one. Sorry!

  20. #PONO #SELFIE Can PONO, Apple or Beats save music from the vast cacophony of modern life intruding & overcome the fact that most people aren’t in ‘full spectrum listening mode’, they aren’t paying attention unless on drugs at da club. Music? Muzak, just a bubblegum soundtrack to a consumer lifestyle. Beats headphones on the train, “strike a pose & vogue, look at my i-device, look at my clothes, #selfie ” , sharing their dubious music taste with everyone. I do that too, of course, but tastefully, not in an OCD chain-smoker sort of way.

    Wait! OMG! I am like, so in love with The Chainsmokers….. . Lots of technical stuff on this thread, hope someone can bring aural salvation to The Masses. ps: Maybe the Taliban are right and music is ‘haram’ and should be banned, that would be simples.

    best
    AGM

    [.pp. Sent for/on behalf of AGM by Kitty Purry-The Intern]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0

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