Beats by Dre

Beats by Dre

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine founded Beats by Dre in 2006 to produce consumer headphones with a premium sound. The company went on to become one of the most popular audio brands in the world, create a music streaming service called Beats Music, and ultimately be purchased by Apple in 2014. Beats still operates its hardware brand mostly independent of Apple.

● Nine distinct product lines
● Unique audio reproduction
● Still one of the most popular audio brands
● Beats Music was the precursor to Apple Music
● Apple purchased the company in 2014

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Beats by Dre headphones are well known for a bass-heavy reproduction of modern music with unique styles and designs. While Apple purchased the company in 2014 to absorb its fledgling music streaming service, Beats Music, the hardware portion was allowed to continue operation independent from the parent company.

Beats by Dre Lineup

Beats by Dre lineup Beats by Dre lineup

There are a wide variety of headphones, earphones, and even a speaker produced by Beats. The more recent releases have benefitted from Apple technology like the W1 or H1 chipset and Lightning connectors. The signature sound of Beats headphones has seen some tweaking under Apple's care as well, but still features heavy bass at the forefront.

Unlike Apple's AirPods line, there's a variety of fits and colors across the Beats products for more universal appeal. Even as Apple introduces its new AirPods Max over-ear headphones, the Beats headphones can still have a place with their unique branding and style.

Find information about the latest Beats by Dre deals and discounts with the AppleInsider Price Guide.

The following features are shared by multiple models listed below:

Fast Fuel - quick charging feature that can provide up to 3 hours of additional listening time with just 5 minutes to 10 minutes of charge depending on the device.

ANC - Active Noise Cancelling, a feature that uses microphones to analyze external noise to produce "anti-noise" that eliminates the external noise for the listener.

Transparency Mode - An offset of ANC technology that uses the microphones to analyze external noise and determine which sounds to pass through to the listener. Used to make the listener aware of surroundings and eliminate the "clogged" feeling of sealed-off ears.

RemoteTalk - Beats products with attached cables have a microphone and volume rocker attached to the cable. The play/pause button allows for call control and Siri functions as well.

Solo Pro

  • On-ear wireless headphones
  • ANC capable
  • Transparency Mode
  • Apple H1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 22-hour battery life with ANC enabled
  • 40-hour battery life with ANC disabled
  • $300

Powerbeats Pro

  • Totally-wireless earbuds with earhooks
  • Sweat and water resistance
  • Apple H1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 9-hour battery life
  • $200

Powerbeats

  • Wireless earbuds with earhooks
  • Sweat and water resistance
  • Apple H1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 15-hour battery life
  • $150

Beats Flex

  • In-ear wireless earbuds
  • Follow-up to BeatsX
  • Apple W1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 12-hour battery life
  • $50

Beats Studio3 Wireless

Beats Studio3 Beats Studio3
  • Over-ear wireless headphones
  • ANC capable
  • Apple W1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 22-hour battery life with ANC enabled
  • 40-hour battery life with ANC disabled
  • $350

Beats Solo3 Wireless

Beats Solo3 Beats Solo3
  • On-ear wireless headphones
  • Apple W1 chipset
  • Fast Fuel capable
  • 40-hour battery life
  • $200

BeatsEP

BeatsEP BeatsEP
  • On-ear wired headphones
  • RemoteTalk cable
  • $130

urBeats3

urBeats3 urBeats3
  • In-ear wired earbuds
  • RemoteTalk cable
  • Available with Lightning or 3.5mm plug
  • $60

Beats Pill+

Beats Pill+ Beats Pill+
  • Portable speaker
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Additional port for charging devices
  • $180

Apple Acquisition

Apple welcomes Beats by Dre to the family Apple welcomes Beats by Dre to the family

Apple revolutionized the music industry in 2001 with the introduction of the iPod, iTunes, and the ability to purchase music digitally. On top of that, customers could buy "singles" for the first time, rather than an entire album. These technologies helped push the music industry into the digital era.

In 2006, Swedish startup Spotify moved to change the industry again with streaming music. The world had fully embraced the purchasing model of iTunes, and Apple was dominating the music scene— but then Spotify introduced the idea of subscribing to a service that allowed unlimited streaming of music rather than owning the songs individually. Other services like Pandora had already introduced the concept of free streaming stations with ads, but Spotify took this model further by giving users agency of choice rather than randomized stations.

The Spotify streaming app and service was officially launched in 2008 with a slow global rollout. The United States received Spotify in 2011.

The threat of the industry shifting to streaming was then on Apple's doorstep, and the company had to make moves to either take hold of premium purchases or enter the streaming market. Apple had done little publicly to show interest in streaming, introducing iTunes Radio as a Pandora-like service without ads, but little else was done.

By 2014, it was clear Apple had to make a move into streaming or be left behind as Spotify took over the music industry. Apple announced its intent to purchase Beats Electronics for $3 billion in May 2014.

Apple closed the deal in August 2014, making Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre employees at the company, absorbing the headphone brand and, most importantly, the Beats Music service.

In a breakdown of the deal from the Wall Street Journal, Apple paid about $500 million for Beats Music and $2.5 billion for Beats Electronics. The acquisition was the biggest in Apple's history, yet Apple likely recouped the cost quickly with the high-margin headphone business and new music service.

Beats Music

Beats Music was the streaming service developed by Beats by Dre with a focus on algorithmic curation. It emulated many of the features of Spotify with a large streaming library and some curated playlists.

“The Sentence” gave users control over the music algorithm "The Sentence" gave users control over the music algorithm

A unique aspect of Beats Music was "The Sentence." This feature would let users create a sentence using predetermined values to generate a radio station algorithmically. No other streaming service has recreated this experience.

Another defining feature was Beats Music's onboarding, which asked users to select their favorite artists from a series of bubbles populating the screen. Apple maintained this feature in its streaming service.

Beats Music was available on Apple, Android, and Windows Phone platforms. Apple maintained the app until the launch of Apple Music in 2015.

Beats 1 Radio

The transition to Apple Music removed much of the whimsy found in Beats Music. The branding shifted to Apple's, with a notable exception: Beats 1 Radio.

The "always-on" radio station launched in July 2015 with live DJs playing curated music selections. While touted as a 24-hour radio station, it followed a 12-hour schedule that repeated halfway through the day. The global nature of the station, airing in over 100 countries, required this schedule so listeners could catch their favorite shows during the day in their locale.

Apple added shows over time, including popular artists and influencers. The Beats 1 brand was highly promoted within Apple Music for years after its launch.

Apple Music radio Apple Music radio

In 2020, Apple changed the branding of the radio station from Beats 1 to Apple Music 1. Alongside the brand change, Apple launched Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country underneath the umbrella Apple Music Radio.

The End of Beats by Dre?

Apple has essentially eliminated the Beats brand from all of its software and services. The only thing that remains is the hardware brand that produces the devices mentioned above.

Industry analysts and writers have asked if Apple is ready to dump beats altogether. The AirPods line is evolving and will soon have four distinct products in the line capable of replacing the entire Beats lineup.

Apple announced its AirPods Max over-ear headphones in December 2020. They offer premium audio, Adaptive EQ, ANC, and other features that could eat into Beats sales, particularly Beats Solo Pro. However, AirPods Max cost $549, still leaving room for Beats Solo Pro and other headphones to occupy the $300 and under price range.

The only issue with the idea behind Apple abandoning Beats by Dre is the non-Apple fans of the brand. Beats serve a large market of Windows and Android users, many of which still do not realize Apple owns the brand. Time will tell if Apple will end Beats, but the company has shown that it is not afraid to have its products compete among themselves.

 
 

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