Apple could announce next week that it has closed a deal on what would be its largest acquisition to date: a $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics.
Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records, and Dr. Dre, a hip-hop music producer, founded Beats Electronics in 2008. In just six years, the company has created a popular line of expensive headphones, a music-streaming service called Beats Music, and an audio technology that it licenses to other companies, among many other things. And now Apple wants to own all of that, it's claimed.
The Financial Times has reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the negotiations, that Apple is in talks to buy Beats Electronics, and if the deal goes through, could make an announcement as early as next week. The publication noted that it would be Apple's largest acquisition ever, if it doesn't fall through, and a significant departure from Apple's history of only buying small companies.
Apple has long been hesitant to spend money on high-profile acquisitions and typically looks in-house when coming up with ideas that will innovate and make an impact on the industry. If Apple does indeed buy Beats Electronics, it will also acquire Beats Music, which launched this year, and Beats' audio equipment business, including Beats headphones, which are currently sold at Apple retail stores.
Apple has likely looked at its retail sales data and can see that Beats headphones sell well. Beats generated revenue of roughly $1 billion in 2013, up from less than $200 million in 2010, and it accepted a $500 million Carlyle investment last year as well. The company, which is based in Santa Monica, currently has roughly 350 employees.
Beats' management team will report directly to Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, if acquired, according to The Financial Times. Cook, who recently admitted that Apple quietly bought 24 smaller companies in 18 months, said in April that Apple was also “on the prowl” for more acquisitions including big companies.
It is not immediately clear why Apple would want to buy Beats. The Cupertino-based company has its own music streaming service, called iTunes Radio, and it doesn't dabble in audio equipment beyond iPod and iOS devices. Still, the pricey deal could help Apple improve existing services and products and possibly explore different avenues it has yet to tap.
Pocket-lint has contacted Apple for a comment and will update when we hear back.