By Siva Om on Mon, 05/19/2014
As you my have heard, as part of Apple's expected acquisition of Beats Music, Grammy-award winning "Gangsta" rap artist Dr. Dre is likely to be appointed as an executive board member at Apple. This is a very interesting development, and word has it that the official introduction will take place at Apple’s annual WWDC this first week of June. Why do I find Dre’s involvement with Apple Inc., as an executive board member no less, so uniquely intriguing?
Well, come on, isn't this Dr. Dre we are talking about after all? Dr. Dre, one of rap's most notorious gangster superstars? "Straight Outta Compton" Dr. Dre? Of NWA’s notorious fame? Dr. Dre, who has the multi-platinum selling Chronic album, all about smoking marijuana and the hardcore gangsta life? Dr. Dre, producer and collaborator of some of the most popular rap acts ever? This is who Apple picked as their executive board member? Really? It's almost too hard to believe! Yet here we are, with numerous reputable sources backing up these rumors. In fact, if you haven't seen Dre’s celebratory video, released when the news first broke of the 3.2 billion dollar deal with Apple, it's worth a look for posterity and perspective if nothing else. Indeed, the merger of Apple and Beats could be as much a sociological event as a business one.
South Central Meets Cupertino
The fact of the matter is Dr. Dre is a true South Central gangsta; at least as far as his public image and song lyrics would lead one to believe. And this is the man Tim Cook is rumored to be talking about placing on the executive board. I say, "Go Tim!" that’s pretty radical, and radical might just be the best thing for Apple right now.
What an interesting and unexpected buy-out for Apple, especially as a company known for its cautious and prudent business moves. Then again, to a company with an estimated brand value of over 100 billion, I reckon 3.2 billion might be considered chump change. In any case, talk about shaking things up! Talk about embracing a little controversy. Talk about gaining an edge! This move would align Apple with one of the major forces in the music industry, leveraging his wisdom, business smarts, and cultural identity, to tap into the elusive younger generation, who also happen to be one of the primary demographic age groups targeted for Apple’s own forthcoming wearable products. Not to mention, can you imagine what Apple will do with Beats headphones when they get their hands on them? They may not change the external look much, at least not at first, but considering Time magazine just ranked Beats as some of the worst headphones on the planet, I reckon Apple will certainly tweak the Beats headphone’s internal components, if nothing else.
A Cultural Revolution
Personally, I think it’s a great business decision! Despite the fact that Dre isn't exactly a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. role-model type, in this day and age of so much thinly veiled racism continually playing out in the national media, I think it's fantastic that Apple is not only actively and consciously embracing popular black culture, but that they are doing so with one of the most recognized, profitable, controversial, and prolific black entertainers of the day. Consider these statistics: According to The Daily Dot, 71 percent of African-Americans are smartphone users, the highest percent of any demographic, while 73 percent of African-American smartphone owners are still Android users.
With a populace of 43 million, African-Americans currently have a collective buying power of over 1 trillion dollars, which would be another sensible reason for Apple to pursue Dr. Dre, as his influence in the black community is far-reaching, with roughly as many as 90 percent of African-Americans (and perhaps unsurprisingly, 75 percent of Caucasian-Americans) listening to some form of hip hop.
Let's face it, Dr. Dre has been, and still is, hugely popular, and it's almost a foregone conclusion that aligning with the good Doctor and his associate Jimmy Iovine is a shrewd business move on Apple’s part, one that has apparently caught the entire business world by surprise.
The Iovine Factor
Speaking of Iovine, he should also be considered another most vital key to this whole deal. With Iovine, Apple adds to its board an extremely respected, well-connected and highly influential member of the music industry, who has ties to numerous high profile musicians and executives and performers including such greats as Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Tom Petty, John Lennon, U2, Eminem, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who also happens to be Chief Creative Officer of Beats music subscription service. With Iovine, Apple gains valuable traction in a music industry where they could use the amicable influence of Iovine to help secure highly lucrative deals with records labels moving forward.
I'd be surprised if this deal doesn't go down. Stay tuned to iPhone Life as official confirmation from Apple could come as early as this week. We'll keep you up to date on the latest developments surrounding what might be Apple’s priciest acquisition ever.