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Apple set to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion

Apple is reportedly set to buy Beats Electronics in a $3.2 billion deal, which would be the largest ever acquisition by Apple.

The deal would see Apple take control of the Beats by Dre headphone range as well as the Beats Music streaming service, which recently launched in the US.

The FT suggests Apple's acquisition of Beats could signify Apple's acceptance that, despite consistent sales volume and huge profits from the iPhone, iPad and other product categories, Apple is wary of losing its "cool".

While Beats by Dre headphones and audio products have received mixed reviews - the three-star Beats by Dr. Dre Wireless headphones and Beats Pill wireless speaker, for example - the brand remains popular amongst a younger audience.

The Beats Electronics company was valued at over $1 billion based on investment received back in September 2013, but it seems Apple is prepared to stump up plenty more than that for complete control of a company which was reported to have made £1 billion in revenue last year.

Beats products were made by Monster up until 2012, after which owners Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre brought production in-house.

The company recently launched the Beats Music streaming service in the US, a Spotify rival, while Beats also branched out in to in-car audio earlier this year as part of a deal with Fiat.

Apple of course has a hefty chunk of the smartphone and tablet market, while iTunes dominates download sales, but an Apple streaming music service, iTunes Radio, has failed to capture the US public's imagination since its launch in June.

Rumours back in March suggested Apple was planning to launch a fully-fledged streaming music service to take on the likes of Deezer, Rdio and Spotify. Beats Music could be the next part in that particular puzzle.

Apple has also, famously, struggled to deliver decent quality earphones, though the Apple EarPods finally delivered a decent alternative to the once ubiquitous, poor sounding white Apple buds.

The Financial Times, which first reported the story, suggests the deal could be announced as early as next week, though stressed some details are yet to be agreed.

by Joe Cox

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Joe Cox
Joe Cox

Joe is Content Director for Specialist Tech at Future and was previously the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across print and online for more than 15 years, writing news, reviews and features. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung, reported from CES, the Bristol Show and Munich High End for many years, and provided comment for sites such as the BBC and the Guardian. In his spare time he enjoys playing records and cycling (not at the same time).