Apple’s pursuit of Beats Electronics is the latest indication that the company is having trouble generating growth on its own. Apple already sells Beats Electronics gear in its stores, giving the company insights into how much the trendy headphones and other audio equipment appeal to its customers.
The negotiations also are taking place as the music market increasingly tilts toward streaming and away from the downloads that once drove the success of Apple’s digital music store, iTunes.
U.S. revenue from downloads — which iTunes dominates — dropped 1 percent to $2.8 billion in 2013, while streaming music revenue from the likes of Pandora and Spotify soared 39 percent to $1.4 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
While downloads still command 40 percent of the market, streaming revenue now accounts for 20 percent of total revenue, up from just 3 percent in 2007.
Beats Electronics LLC was founded in Santa Monica, California in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Its headphones were manufactured by Monster Cable until the two companies parted ways in 2012. The headphones have become a bit of status symbol worn by celebrities as well as audiophiles.
In 2012, Beats bought streaming music service MOG, which it transformed and relaunched as Beats Music earlier this year. The launch was fueled by a landmark partnership with AT&T that allowed up to five family members to pay $15 a month for the service as long as they were AT&T wireless customers. The deal broke the industry mold of charging each person $10 per month.