Why Apple Is Buying Beats

are we witnessing a reinvention, into the sort of company that seeks to transcend computing, demoting technology to an essential ingredient of an aspirational brand that identifies its users as the truly with it? Is Apple becoming a fashion house? Think about it: you have Jony Ive as all-up head of design, the equivalent of a Tom Ford or Donatella Versace. There is the hire of Angela Ahrendts – why would she leave the CEO position of Burberry for a Senior VP role? You have an iPhone framed as an experience, not a product. And now you acquire an accessory maker differentiated almost completely by its brand, not its inherent technical quality.

Consider the financial allure: LVMH’s P/E ratio of 21 is low for a fashion brand, yet is 50% higher than Apple’s 14. Tiffany & Co is 62! Moreover, it is high-end fashion that is dominant in the fastest-growing region in the world, Asia, and especially in the fastest-growing country, China. Even with a recent slowdown prompted by an anti-corruption crackdown, China accounted for 29 percent of the worldwide luxury market, although Southeast Asia has recently eclipsed China in growth.

Still, I can imagine the very thought of Apple positioning itself as a fashionable luxury brand is somewhat nauseating for many of my readers. It’s an understandable reaction, and one I somewhat share. I worry that Apple is losing what makes Apple, Apple, especially that desire to make the power of computing accessible for normal people. But I also know that stasis means stagnation, and over the long-run, death.

In the end, I don’t know for sure where Apple is heading, just like I don’t know for sure why they did this deal, but it just might be worth something that they’re headed somewhere.

via Why Apple Is Buying Beats | stratechery by Ben Thompson.


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