It was Apple’s largest ever deal but little was known of the real reasons behind the technology giant’s acquisition of Dr. Dre’s Beats headphone firm.
Almost a year ago, Apple paid £1.9bn for a company that produced what many termed ‘overpriced headphones’ and a music-streaming business. History was made not only by Apple, but this deal made Beats co-founder Dre the first hip-hop billionaire. Critics flooded social media and tech blogs by the bucket-load. Analyst Benedict Evans cited “If you think Apple’s lost it, Beats deal is confirmation”. Columnists were puzzled by Apple CEO Tim Cook’s move as many concluded that Apple could make better headphones on its own rather than Dre’s popular product.
That point was logical and still is to this day. So Apple, if not for the product, struck the deal primarily for Dre’s music-streaming service.
Cook’s Beats deal has been examined by US federal agencies in regards to Apple’s music streaming service. Tech website, The Verge reported that “Apple has been pushing major music labels to force streaming services like Spotify to abandon their free tiers, which will considerably reduce the competition for apple’s upcoming offering.”
The US’ Department of Justice had a monitor based in the company’s Headquarters since Apple was found guilty in an ebook anti-trust case of conspiring with publishers to raise the price of ebooks to consumers. Consequently, Apple received a £289m fine, though it is appealing it.
Apple’s recent adventures suggest that regulators are beginning to see the light. In Europe, the European Commission successfully prosecuted Microsoft for monopolistic abuses, and has now started to call Google to account. Additionally, the European Court of Justice surprised everyone by deciding that Europeans had a legal right to request that distasteful material about them published online should be erased from Google’s search directory within the 28 countries of the European Union.
All this is good news for society, although not really welcomed by the new masters of the technological universe. The message thus for the big high-tech corporations is this: there is such a thing as society, and you need to play by its rules.
TNT Business Yasin Chinembiri