First Launched: Re-mastered in 2016
History: Beats by Dr. Dre was founded in 2006 by music producer and rapper Andre Young (“Dr Dre”) and record producer and music business executive Jimmy Iovine as a direct response the poor audio quality provided by Apple’s plastic earbuds.
The Beats brand has relied heavily on celebrity association and endorsement but the build quality is good and the sound quality is comparable to other high-end audio products.
Beats’ original product line of headphones was manufactured in partnership with the AV equipment company Monster Cable Products but later all development work was taken in house. In 2014, the company expanded into the online music market with the launch the subscription-based streaming service Beats Music.
In 2012 it was reported that Beats’ market share was 64% in the U.S for headphones priced higher than $100, giving the brand a value of US$1 billion in September 2013.
For a period, the company’s majority shareholder was phone maker HTC, but the company reduced its stake to 25% in 2012 and sold its remaining stake back to the company in 2013; concurrently Carlyle Group replaced HTC as a minority shareholder, alongside Dr. Dre and Iovine, in late 2013.
On August 1, 2014, Apple Inc acquired Beats for US$3 billion in a cash and stock deal, the largest acquisition in Apple’s history.
Photo by Beat by Dr Dre