Oops. Beats were cool because they weren’t made by Apple

Try as he might, Apple CEO Tim Cook is going to have a tough time convincing that Philly teen that his Apple-branded Dres aren't nouveau corporate chic.

Memo to Apple: Beats were cool because you don't own the company.
Memo to Apple: Beats were cool because you don't own the company.
Memo to Apple: Beats were cool because you don’t own the company.

So much for that. Beats used to be cool. In a $3.2 billion flash that all changed. Dre is sitting pretty – deservedly so, for building an iconic brand in such a short time against insurmountable odds.

But Apple’s acquisition is surely one of the most misguided in tech history.

You can talk about branding, attach-rates, music industry and subscription margins. None of that really matters going forward. The masses bought, loved, and worshipped Beats headphones largely because…

They weren’t made by Apple.

Or Sony. Or Samsung. Or Amazon.

It was cool because it was—like Hip Hop itself—mysterious, an underdog, and, even, dangerous. We can kiss all that goodbye. Try as he might, Tim Cook is going to have a tough time convincing that Philly teen that his Apple-branded Dres are not nouveau corporate chic. You, kid, yeah you in the hoodie: you and your Dres, for sure, you’re still all about the street… Wall Street. How do you like me now?

Not that Beats weren’t always about the money.

Dre is now Hip Hops self-proclaimed “first billionaire.” Still, at least under his guise, the brand could never be accused of not being authentic.

Let the pundits go on about brand extension, ecosystems and this, that and the other. They are all wrong. It’ll take all of 12 months (maybe less) for the world to see that this move is another example of a rudderless, post-Jobs Apple struggling to find its next wave of innovation; granted, it’s not exactly hurting financial performance!

And, a quick, final thought:

Fashion.

That’s the other thing Beats is about.

Beats headphones are everywhere. It is cool to be seen wearing Beats. My Bose noise canceling phones? Not so much.

If there’s one thing we know about fashion is that it’s a fickle bugger. Hot today, cold tomorrow. Bell bottoms? Leg warmers? Top hats?

So did Apple really buy a hardware company, or did it buy a fashionable brand… one that could be very quickly derided and considered out of style?

PS- POTUS is in Silicon Valley today. I can just feel the #energy…

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