May 9 - Sources say Apple is close to paying $3.2 billion for hip headphones maker Beats Electronics, but some analysts say Apple doesn't need another hot brand. Fred Katayama reports.
Apple could be dancing to a new beat. The company that revolutionized the music industry is close to buying the hip maker of those Dr. Dre headphones and speakers, Beats Electronics. Sources say Apple is prepared to dish up $3.2 billion which would make Beats the largest Apple acquisition ever. Apple is under intense pressure to deliver an exciting new product as sales of iPhones and iTunes slow down. Here's what Apple would get: the hot Beats brand and products, a paid-subscription-based music service, and an entrepreneur in co-founder Jimmy Iovine. But some analysts are saying, beats me? PiperJaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says, "Apple already has a world class brand and has never acquired a brand for a brand's sake. Separately, we are not aware of any intellectual property within Beats that would drive the acquisition justification beyond the brand." CLSA analyst Avi Silver says Beat's customized streaming service is better than Apple's own iRadio but inferior to Spotify's. So he argues, "Why acquire Beats instead of market leader Spotify?" Apple can afford a lot with its $130 billion cash hoard. Apple's stock, which hit $600 this week, fell at the start of trade.