Multiple reports have suggested that Apple’s motivation for the rumoured acquisition of Beats — expected to close at any time now — is Jimmy Iovine’s relationship with the music industry. As music industry critic Bob Lefsetz has pointed out, Apple is essentially buying Jimmy’s contacts, which are certainly worth something.
Speaking with Billboard, Walter Isaacson joins these voices by also pointing to Iovine as the main reason for Apple’s acquisition plan. We have reported that both Iovine and Dr. Dre could take exec positions at Apple, and now Isaacson speculates that Cook allegedly wants Iovine to head Apple’s content business in order to ink music and TV deals for the also-rumoured Apple television product.
In fact, Apple and Iovine have been working together for quite some time now, and the latter has helped the iPhone maker strike essential deals with music labels: 12 years ago, Iovine was the one who helped Jobs ink a deal with five music labels for the iTunes Store. Two years later (2004), he helped Steve Jobs ink a deal with U2 to create the popular U2 special edition iPod.
After going through his notes (which he took when writing the Jobs biography), Isaacson pointed to a previous rumoured deal strongly connected to music: In 2003, Iovine wanted Apple to acquire Universal Music Group.
Apple has had a hard time striking deals with major content providers for its rumoured iTV. By Having Jimmy Iovine on board, this could change, Walter Isaacson suggests.
Isaacson thinks the Apple-Beats deal is not about headphones or streaming music but rather is about video. He speculates that Cook wants Iovine to run Apple’s content business and help Apple launch the TV product that analysts have been gossiping about for years. The product has been held up because Apple can’t get all the content owners on board.
Maybe Iovine has the charisma and connections to round up the networks the way he did the music labels in 2002, although “it’s a lot more complicated” this time around, says Isaacson. His track record of success in marrying content and tech gives that theory some weight.
Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 2. If the rumours are true — we will have to wait for confirmation of the deal, though — both Dr. Dre and Iovine will make it to the stage on that day.