I just can't wrap my head around the decision to maintain the beats brand. People are virtually ignoring the enormous sea change that this represents for Apple. A year ago, Cook consolidated product development for software and hardware and put both under Ive. And at the time, the reason given was that he wanted to ensure that every product Apple builds works together seamlessly across all aspects of the human interface, with the same attention to detail and design thoughtfulness that the hardware has.
Now flash forward a year, and Apple has not only acquired an entire brand, they plan to continue to operate that brand, which is for Apple a gigantic change in and of itself. And even more interesting, they aren't putting the hardware or software design for this entirely new brand under Ive, they are putting it under Phil Schiller, a marketing guy.
So, we have two dueling realities. One is the reality where Apple is fanatical to detail and to anything that may sully its brand, and where they have vested tremendous power over the design of their products in just one individual, ostensibly all in service of protecting the core design centric ethos of the company. And then we have this entirely separate reality, where not only is Apple's brand irrelevant, they have completely sidestepped the authority over design that is pervasive in the core brand.
What is up with that?
Everyone is talking about the streaming music app, the headphones, Jimmy Iovine, etc. and trying to make sense of this from the perspective of revenue. But people seem to be ignoring the fundamental nature of the change in Apple's business practice that this acquisition represents. This is a significant departure for Apple from the fundamental nature of how they have run their business. And I don't think that change can be properly understood by framing it with arguments about talent acquisition, digital rights, streaming music, or any of that. Either this represents a highly strategic move which will see Apple heavily leverage the Beats brand going forward... or it is an enormous mistake.
Honestly I'm not really sure which this is at this point - genius or disaster. But I cannot believe that Apple would make these very significant changes to the core of how they do business just to get at some headphones and a streaming app. There has to be much more to this picture.