Steve Jobs biographer: Apple’s supposed Beats buy about video, not headphones and music

By , May 20, 2014

Steve Jobs and Jimmy Iovine (Getty Images 001)

By now, everyone has already chimed in with their two cents on what Apple’s rumored Beats buy might mean for Apple’s reputation in music – even our own Cody Lee has summarized the more popular theories floating around out there.

It’s commonly accepted that Beats Electronic, LCC. co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will be taking on senior roles at Apple after Beats buyout, with their grand introductions as Apple executives apparently set to take place at WWDC.

Bloomberg thinks Apple will keep Beats as a separate brand and improve its headphones design and another source speculated that the deal could lead to high-resolution music on iTunes.

But according to Steve Jobs’s biographer Walter Isaacson, none of this is true as the deal is actually about video, not about headphones or streaming music…

Isaacson predicted that Apple’s boss Tim Cook wants to see Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine take over Apple’s content business and negotiations with Hollywood majors to help deliver on the firm’s vision for the television.

Dan Lyons, writing for Billboard:

Isaacson thinks the Apple-Beats deal is not about headphones or streaming music but rather is about video. He speculates that Cook wants Iovine to run Apple’s content business and help Apple launch the TV product that analysts have been gossiping about for years. The product has been held up because Apple can’t get all the content owners on board.

And in sorting through Isaacson’s notes he had taken while preparing the Jobs bio book, he stumbled upon unpublished comments from Iovine dating back to 2002 and 2003.

Apparently, Iovine wanted Jobs to acquire Universal.

At that time, Iovine was running Interscope Geffen A&M, which to this date remains part of Universal Music Group. Iovine was friends with Jobs and was key in helping Apple’s co-founder talk five top music labels to sign on to the iTunes Store back in 2003.

According to Isaacson, Iovine also helped Jobs broker a deal with U2 to create a special U2 edition of the iPod.

Something about this report doesn’t sound right.

If Cook needs Iovine to run Apple’s content strategy, why not just hire the guy instead of potentially pouring $3.2 billion into Beats hardware and streaming music service it doesn’t really need.

Speaking of Beats, guess who else will profit from the Beats acquisition? Musician and producer Will.i.am, who is one of Beats co-owners, as per this CNN Money report.

What’s your read of the situation?

Should Iovine become Apple’s top content negotiator?

And can Iovine’s industry contacts and relations with record labels and Hollywood studios help Apple gain premium programming for the mythical iTV?

Sound off with your analysis down in the comments.

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Bob

    Apple eats many smaller companies and and grows even bigger. This is a good move for Apple just like buying Siri and Authentec was.

    • Byron C Mayes

      And don’t forget SoundJam…

  • Rupinder S

    I never realized how similar Steve Jobs and Jimmy Loving look!

    • Framboogle

      Loving?

      • Byron C Mayes

        Damned autocorrect!

    • Sachin

      They look like brothers. lol

  • Byron C Mayes

    I think this has been in the works for a while now. Maybe video is in the mix, but this deal is most certainly about music streaming; “in addition to” if not primarily.

    iTunes Radio is actually pretty good as “radio” services go, but it lacks on-demand streaming. Beats Music has decent on-demand coverage and a modern mobile interface, but a small-ish catalog and a weak radio service (“The Sentence” is innovative, but cannot be the only radio access).

    The two systems are so complimentary and each fills in the other’s gaps so well that one might think this was the plan all along. Even the icon colors of the iOS Music and Beats Music mobile apps are eerily similar.

  • http://R0Fleming.tumblr.com/ R0Fleming

    Ummm, ok? I really didn’t see that coming. I kinda doubt it, though.

  • Abi Darwish

    Haha..apple bought beats so that iovin can be the CEO.

  • Eli aka Mr. Haha

    I can see Iovine helping get the ball rolling with the iTV. But I still think Apple mainly bought Beats to help improve not only their headphones (such as the EarPods and their In-Ear headphones), but maybe even iTunes and the iPod in our phones and stuff. Wouldn’t even surprise me if they ended up creating new headphones to bundle with the iPhone and iPods that are improved with collaboration between Apple & Beats.