First-gen iPad minis on clearance in anticipation of new models
Target stores in the US and its online store are now offering first-generation iPad minis at clearance prices, selling the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only model for $199 -- a price that is lower or equal to most competing (but smaller) seven-inch tablets, such as the Kindle HDX or Google's Nexus 7. The price is $100 lower than the normal retail price in all configurations, and $20 below Apple's own price for its refurbished model. The sale also offers $50 off the price of the iPad Air in all configurations. The promotion is good for "this week only," and is based on limited amounts of stock, according to the Target website.
Music service works its way into Apple ecosystem
Beats Music is now being promoted as one of the "Best New Apps" in the App Store, even though the title has actually been available since January and was last updated July 28th. It is also included in the Apps Made by Apple section linked at the bottom of the App Store. Earlier this week, Apple began highlighting Beats Music in the list of apps recommended to new iOS users.
Beats Music "Listen Now" feature rolling out for Shazam on iOS
The iOS version of Shazam has begun to roll out a new "Listen Now" feature from Beats Music. The music streaming service integration allows users to tag a song with Shazam, and then immediately play it in Beats Music. A subscription is required to Beats Music to utilize this new feature, however a 14-day free trial of the service is available.
Title appears as official Apple app
People setting up an iOS 7 device for the first time are now seeing Beats Music among the list of recommended Apple apps, according to anecdotes. The App Store splash page is otherwise full of titles like iBooks, Podcasts, Find My iPhone, and the iWork suite. Notably Beats Music is the only one to require payments, since it's based on monthly subscription plans.
Workers say institution is 'meticulously planned'
Citing three people who have attended the school, the New York Times has published a profile of Apple University, the institution used to indoctrinate workers into Apple's corporate culture. The dean of the school is Joel Podolny, who took over full-time in February. The school is reportedly "meticulously planned, with polished presentations and a gleaming veneer that masks a great deal of effort;" one worker comments that "even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice." Classrooms are described as well-lit and trapezoid-shaped, with stadium seating so that everyone has a clear field of view. In some cases, though, teachers travel outside the US to present lectures.
Beats brand may be set to live on separately
Apple has added a specific Beats by Dr. Dre section to the online Apple store, shoppers note. The page has its own tab under the Accessories section. Apple has sold Beats headphones and speakers for some time, but since the latter's acquisition, it has begun highlighting the products both online and at retail.
Features Beats Pill speakers, Siri in jokey self-congratulatory message
A brief video has been posted by new Apple employee Dr. Dre on the Beats Twitter account that both celebrates and pokes fun at the union of the two companies. The video, which features animated versions of the Beats Pill speakers and the disembodied voice of Siri, will remind some of the "talking car" Chevron advertisements done by Aardman Animation, makers of Wallace & Gromit in its style of animation and light humor between "Mikey" and "Tina."
Executive will straddle both music services
Beats Music head Ian Rogers will also take charge of iTunes Radio as a part of Apple's acquisition of Beats, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The people add that having Rogers in charge of both units is intended to generate cohesion in Apple's streaming music options. How exactly that might manifest is unclear, but the Journal speculates that Apple may implement new subscription options.
Some terminations may wait up to a year
Although layoffs may be coming, no one at Beats has lost their job yet as a result of Apple's takeover, a source tells Billboard. "Every single person is going through Apple orientation, they're signing up for healthcare," the person comments, noting that everyone has been offered a full-time job at Apple, although as confirmed by the company some people are only being offered work for a limited time. Specifically, the source says that these people could lose their jobs in anywhere from three months to a year. Five people have reportedly been fired in "performance-based terminations."
Acquisition proceeds while still waiting for final US approval
(Updated with Apple welcoming page) Vivendi's Universal Music Group has completed a sale of its 13 percent stake in Beats to Apple, in a deal worth $404 million, according to an official statement. The company hasn't released any other details. In all, Apple is paying about $3 billion to acquire Beats.
Some may still find work at Apple
Apple has confirmed reports of job losses at Beats as a part of its $3 billion acquisition. "We're excited to have the Beats team join Apple, and we have extended job offers to every Beats employee," says Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "Because of some overlap in our operations, some offers are for a limited period and we'll work hard during this time to find as many of these Beats employees as we can another permanent job within Apple." Sources say that last week, about 200 out of Beats' 700 employees were told that their positions are now temporary, and will be cut within the next few months.
Developers, creative workers being kept
Although the takeover has yet to be fully approved legally, some workers and technology resources are already being shifted from Beats to Apple, sources say. Apple executives have allegedly visited Beats' California headquarters this week and the last, offering some workers new positions at Apple while telling others that their jobs will be cut. Many Beats employees in creative or development roles are being offered work at Apple; many of these are allegedly headed to Apple's Cupertino's headquarters, but the company is keeping both the Santa Monica offices and some engineers associated with Beats Music.
Now offers Tune Your Taste, verified accounts, song history, more
As the process of Beats Music's acquisition by Apple continues, the iOS app for the subscription-based Beats Music service has received an update to both make playback better and more reliable as well as to improve the overall user experience. The new version 2.2.0 gives users the ability to customize the services's "Just For You" recommendations by changing artists and genres with a new feature called Tune Your Taste. In addition to some other changes, Beats reports that it has "fixed a ton of bugs."
Clears major legal obstacle
The European Commission has authorized Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, according to an official statement. The organization was tasked with scrutinizing any possible antitrust concerns in the deal. In its judgment, the Commission notes that while both Apple and Beats sell headphones in Europe, even their combined marketshare is low, and the companies aren't in close competition. Their headphones are said to "differ markedly in functionality and design."
Apple now on the hook in another patent infringement case
In a court filing discovered today, audio equipment maker Bose is suing headphone rival Beats over noise cancellation headphone technology. Bose claims that Beats has knowingly infringed on "50 years of signficant investment in the research, development, engineering, and design" on the technology, with the Beats lineup for sale now using "36 US patents and applications" that Bose now owns or has filed for.
Beats' Jimmy Iovine said to be important to new marketing efforts
Apple may be on the verge of completely separating from its long-time ad partner, TBWA's Media Arts Lab, says the New York Post. Citing industry rumors, the paper suggests that Apple's entire external advertising account is "up for grabs," and that Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine -- soon to become an executive at Apple, following Beats' acquisition -- will also be used to help revive Apple marketing efforts. "Apple bought Beats for a lot of reasons," comments one anonymous ad agency executive. "They think they're marketing geniuses. It is safe to assume Beats would be part of an assessment of all [Apple] partners."
Case could be worth billions of dollars
Speaker and headphone maker Beats -- currently undergoing an acquisition by Apple -- has filed a lawsuit against a collection of Chinese counterfeiters, asking for billions of dollars in damages. "This action has been filed by Beats to combat online counterfeiters who trade upon Beats' reputation and goodwill by selling and/or offering for sale unlicensed and counterfeit products featuring Beats' trademarks," the complaint reads. "The Defendants create [fake Internet storefronts] by the hundreds or even thousands and design them to appear to be selling genuine Beats products, while actually selling low-quality Counterfeit Beats Products to unknowing consumers."
Could ask for concessions if deal thought to be too anti-competitive
Antitrust regulators with the European Commission will rule by July 30 whether or not Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats can go ahead as planned, according to Reuters. The Commission has several options available: it can authorize the deal as signed, or ask for concessions -- such as divestiture -- if it's determined that the buyout would give Apple too much industry control. In a worst-case scenario, the Commission could launch an investigation that might even scuttle the acquisition.
Scosche announces smartBox retractable charge and sync cable for Lightning, micro USB devices
Electronic accessories company Scosche has announced the availability of its new dual syncing cable, the smartBox. Composed of a two-in-one setup, the retractable charge and sync cable can connect to devices with Lighting or micro USB devices. The cable can extend outwards up to three feet, and its sliding adapters allows for the switch between Lighting and micro USB connectivity. Priced at $25, the Scosche smartBox is available for purchase online.
Fitness-oriented Bluetooth audio
Apple-owned Beats has announced a new edition of its Powerbeats earbuds, the Powerbeats2 Wireless. The buds connect to any Bluetooth-capable device, and are said to have been designed with help from NBA player LeBron James. They're consequentially more fitness-oriented, with rubberized hooks to keep them in place while walking or running.
Basketball star, Samsung pitchman owns fractional share of Beats
Unbeknowst to many, another minority-stake owner in Beats Electronics may be seeing a healthy payday when the Apple acquisition of the headphone, accessory and music service company goes through: basketball star and Samsung pitchman LeBron James. The Miami Heat star struck a deal back in 2008 to acquire a small stake in Beats in exchange for promoting its high-end headphones, ESPN reports, and could see a profit of more than $30 million in cash and stock according to sources.
Music mogul relies heavily on gut instinct, highly opinionated, shuns publicity
The Wall Street Journal on Friday published a profile of hip-hop artist and producer Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre -- whose company, Beats Electronics, has been sold to Apple for $3 billion, pending regulatory approval. The article paints Young as an obsessive, thoughtful talent who relies heavily on taste and instinct rather than market research, with one colleague describing the 49-year-old as a "cultural barometer" of what is in vogue, with great development skills and strong intuition.
Spokesperson puts story in doubt
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor has left his position at Beats as chief creative officer, according to USA Today. The paper also suggests that one of the company's technology executives, Fredric Vinna, recently left for Spotify, while co-founder Ola Sars has gone to an unspecified Spotify-backed venture. A spokesperson representing Beats and Reznor insists that the report is inaccurate, but without mentioning which parts.
Amount for Music may actually be in excess of service's value
In Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, $2.5 billion of that went towards the hardware division, while just $500 million was for Beats Music, according to the Wall Street Journal. Beats Music is a relatively new streaming service, having only launched in January.
Pair of new headphones feature larger dynamic range than predecessors
Recent Apple acquisition Beats has announced a pair of new headphones, both with a more dynamic, wider range of sound than previous releases. Unveiled today is a refresh of the Solo headphone -- the Solo2, and a collaboration with design firm Snarkitecture, the Snarkitecture X Beats.
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
Apple EarPods provide a great listening experience at small cost
The ink hasn't even dried on Apple's acquisition of Beats and Dr Dre (Andre Young) and Jimmy Iovine, both newly anointed executives at Apple have already made a public gaffe a piece. Firstly, we saw Dr Dre quaffing Heineken beer and bragging about the deal before it was made official. Then just late yesterday, in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference, Jimmy Iovine publicly criticized Apple's pre-packaged headphones (its EarPods) as being for little more than "to see if the sound [on the device] works." While it might have been a casual off-handed quip, it wouldn't have amused the team responsible for developing Apple's EarPods. Nor is it something you would ever expect hear coming from an Apple executive, indicating that this union may take a little while to become fully settled.
Notes that Beats' music service got subscription 'right'
In a memo to employees following Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music and Beats Electronics, CEO Tim Cook has described the purchase as a way to "make our incredible iTunes lineup even better, extending the emotional connection our customers have with music." He also made note of the fact that Apple felt the way Beats music, while a fledgling service, had handled the concept of subscriptions, calling it "just right."
Beats co-founders to take unannounced Apple jobs
Following weeks of rumors, Apple has confirmed plans to buy Beats Electronics in a deal worth $3 billion. That figure includes an upfront payout of $2.6 billion, and a remaining $400 million that will vest over time. The purchase includes Beats' hardware and streaming music divisions, and co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre (Andre Young) will join Apple in unspecified job roles.
Deal could be announced by end of week
Apple has lowered its asking price for Beats Electronics to $3 billion, but is in a position to announce a deal by the end of the week, according to sources for the New York Post. The original $3.2 billion figure is said to have been touted prematurely. "Apple hadn't even begun its due diligence process when news of the number came out," one source is quoted as saying.
Source says Apple after talent, cultural cachet still happening, but was close to disintegrating
Apple is indeed still planning to buy Beats Electronics, according to unnamed sources, but the deal has allegedly almost fallen apart several times. The person claims that there is a "70 percent certainty" the buyout will happen. Notably, the person claims that Apple isn't after Beats Music, speakers, or headphones, but rather talent and cultural cachet. "[Apple] wants Jimmy [Iovine] and they want [Dr.] Dre," the person says. "[Iovine]'s got fashion and culture completely locked up."
David Hyman fired to avoid compensation payments, lawsuit alleges
The founder of MOG, the music subscription service that was to become Beats Music, has sued Beats Electronics over a loss of earnings. David Hyman claims he was fired from the company before he was able to earn shares in the company, with the situation exacerbated by the anticipated acquisition of Beats by Apple for an estimated $3.2 billion.
Signing may have to wait for next week
Apple's anticipated buyout of Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion may not be finalized until sometime next week, sources say. It was initially expected that the deal would be done by Friday. It's not clear what the source of the delay might be.
Takeover by Apple apparently technology-oriented
Beats Music recorded having just 110,992 subscribers in March, according to a leaked royalty report obtained by The Guardian. The service launched in the US in January, but by March had managed only 49,371 individual accounts and 61,621 family accounts. Since family accounts cover up to five people that may imply many more listeners, but AT&T has also been offering 90-day free trials of the service, which could potentially make the number of paying subscribers extremely low.
Iovine could assume control of music strategy, licensing
Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre could be announced as joining Apple leadership at this year's Worldwide Developers' Conference in June, sources tell Billboard. Apple is reportedly buying Beats for $3.2 billion, but hasn't confirmed a deal yet, much less elaborated on plans. One of the Billboard sources says that Iovine will likely watch over Apple's general music strategy, and handle relationships with labels and publishers. Iovine is a well-known producer, and has had to deal with rights owners in order to set up Beats Music.
Beats' Jimmy Iovine seen on Apple campus
Apple took an interest in buying Beats Electronics because of Beats Music, according to a Bloomberg source claimed to be familiar with acquisition talks. Beats Music launched just earlier this year, but Apple executives are said to have been impressed by Beats' ability to convert people into paying subscribers. That could imply that Apple wants to improve iTunes Radio by upgrading its design and/or introducing more subscription options. The closest thing to an iTunes Radio subscription is iTunes Match, which removes ads from Radio but is intended mainly as a way of backing up a personal library and streaming it anywhere.
Apple's acquisition of Beats Electronics gives it what it needs right now
A lot of eyebrows were raised when rumors of Apple's purported acquisition of Beats Electronics surfaced over the past few days. Until now, Apple is a company that has been known for making relatively small, targeted, acquisitions that have often eventually found their way into shipping Apple-engineered products as technological enhancements giving it a competitive edge. With around $150 billion in cash and liquid assets, all eyes have been on Apple for some time, waiting to see what it might splash out some of that cash on. No one outside of Apple could see the acquisition of Beats Electronics coming, and certainly not for what seems a somewhat hefty $3.2 billion.
Co-founder Jimmy Iovine could become advisor to Apple's Tim Cook
Two new reports appear to support the notion that Apple is interested in buying Beats Electronics. The New York Post says that Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine is in talks for a "special advisor" position at Apple, making him counsel for CEO Tim Cook on "creative matters." Iovine could theoretically take the position without an Apple buyout of Beats, but an acquisition would make the position more likely.
Addition teased only yesterday
Beats Music has launched a new version of its iOS client, 2.0. While not bringing many fundamental changes, the update is the first to include a native iPad interface, better taking advantage of the tablet's screen space. The interface readjusts based on whether an iPad is in portrait or landscape mode.
Beats Music app update adds in-software subscription
Beats Music's streaming service app for iOS has received an update. Users can now subscribe to the streaming service from within the app, meaning that once the trial period is over, the transition to paid service is that much easier. Also included is the ability to find Facebook friends who use Beats, improved social network linking, and new tracks in the Sentence playlist generator. The Beat Music app can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.
Spotify competitor offers curated playlists, Sentence-based music discovery
The Dr Dre-owned Spotify competitor Beats Music has gone live in the United States, with the app appearing in the App Store. The long-awaited streaming music offering launch also signals the future closure of the MOG service, shuttering on April 15th, though it appears that MOG subscribers will not get directly migrated over to Beats Music.
Beats Music streaming service to launch next month
Beats Music, the streaming music site spun out from the maker of the popular premium headphones, will make its debut in January of next year, it was revealed on Wednesday. The site for the service has gone live, and users can now register a user name for when it goes live next year. The particulars of Beats' new music offering are as yet unknown, but the company will likely reveal them in the weeks leading up to its unveiling.
Larger version of Pill portable speaker gets tested at FCC
A new speaker from Beats has been spotted going through certification at the FCC, one that appears to be a more stationary model. The filing for the Beats Pill XL reveals a larger version of the company's portable speaker, suggesting that the company may be celebrating its break-up from HTC by preparing to sell an upscaled model in the near future.
Carlyle Group moves in as new investor
As expected, Beats Electronics has split from its partnership with HTC. The latter company has announced that it has sold back its 25 percent stake in Dr. Dre's audio brand, after dumping its controlling stake last year. The latest stock buyback is valued at $265 million.
Report claims Beats Electronics plans buyback of remaining shares from HTC
The producer of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line could be forcing out HTC as an investor and replacing it with another in the future, according to a report. Beats Electronics is said to be looking to buy back the remaining 25-percent ownership stake controlled by HTC, a move similar to one performed by the company last year after allegations of HTC failing to meet certain contractual obligations.
Beats gives its popular Studio line a complete redesign
Beats has unveiled a completely redesigned set of Studio headphones. In addition to giving the exterior a new look, Beats says it has also built in its Acoustic Engine digital signal processing to enhance the audio experience without the need for special hardware. The new headphones are also 13 percent lighter than the superseded model, while also making them more compact and portable.
UK retail leaks price and imminent release date
Sightings of a Beats-branded Bluetooth wireless speaker have been reported at both the FCC and a UK retailer. The Beats by Dr. Dre Pill has passed through the FCC, with mention of its Bluetooth capabilities, while the online store for HMV put up a listing for the speaker, before quickly removing it from existence.
Beats Solo or Harman Kardon headphones, which is best?
Music is one of the more popular forms of entertainment, and in recent times there has been a renewed emphasis on audio quality. A number of recording artists have been vocal in criticizing the compression of modern music with the advent of the iPod age in particular. Worse, the default headphones sold with many devices hardly makes matters any better and greater numbers of listeners are looking to get the best sound that they can afford. Beats by Dr Dre have become the dominant headphone brand on the market, while Harman Kardon have only just entered the lucrative headphone space. So which is the better choice?
HTC's own upheaval caused phone maker to miss commitments
Following yesterday's news of Beats Audio buying back shares from HTC, sources today claim that the buyback occurred due to HTC not fulfilling certain of its contractual obligations. Persons familiar with the matter tell CNet that HTC's own troubles kept the company from meeting its financial commitments to Beats, leading Beats to buy back half of the shares it had sold to the Taiwanese phone maker.
HTC still largest shareholder, but Beats to seek more flexibility
Beats Audio will buy back half of the shares Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC owns in the company. The buyback was announced yesterday in a press release from the audio accessory maker. It's been just under a year since HTC bought 50 percent of Beats, but the new development will see Beats striking out more on its own going forward.