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One reason the Beats deal could be a huge mistake for Apple

Published May 23rd, 2014 2:45PM EDT
Why Is Apple Buying Beats

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Apple’s plan to buy up Beats has left many analysts scratching their heads and wondering why Tim Cook and the crew at Cupertino are spending $3.2 billion to acquire an audio hardware and software company. Writing over at Techpinions, Jackdaw analyst Jan Dawson explains that many people are worried that the Beats deal might be a sign that Apple has started to listen too much to the outside noise from Wall Street investors demanding that it make flashy, aggressive moves to reignite its growth.

Apple has… always been, to an unusual degree, a company motivated first and foremost by creating great products rather than driving shareholder returns,” he writes. “But as growth has slowed, and the stock price has followed, Apple is faced with a critical decision: whether to start doing things that will make sense financially in the short term even if they’re not what’s best for its customers and for Apple’s long term success.”

In his analysis, Dawson does a good job at showing that Apple’s customers are really its most valuable players: They’re almost insanely loyal and are willing to pay a premium for computing products that they think are superior to all others in the market. As long as Apple keeps those customers happy and doesn’t to anything to damage its reputation with them, it will remain a profitable and healthy company.

Dawson doesn’t personally think that Apple’s Beats buy is a sign that it’s changing its slow-and-steady approach to product development to appease investors such as Carl Icahn, but he definitely understands the anxiety of those who do.

The reality, of course, is if Apple did release an inferior product, or worse still several of them, it would be an enormous strategic blunder,” he says. “Apple products command such a premium precisely because their standards are so high, and any lowering of standards due to short term financial expediency would be terrifically damaging long term. The fact is the tension here isn’t actually so much between Apple’s customers and its shareholders as a whole – it’s between those interested in Apple’s long term prospects and those interested in short term financial performance.”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.

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