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Here's Why I Think Apple Might Be Buying Beats, and Some Other Things I Think They Should Do

Some thoughts from a Business Insider interview.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Earlier today, Business Insider did an interview with Kara Swisher and me about our new website and conference. As part of the discussion, Jay Yarow asked me about Apple and its rumored purchase of Beats, the headphones and online music company.

It caused me to think a little bit more about the company. So, even though these are just off-the-cuff remarks, I am posting that part here in its entirety, starting with the question of why Apple might be making such an acquisition:

If it’s true, I think that there could be a number of reasons for it. One was they just felt that it was the quickest way for them to get into streaming. Another is that Beats makes premium products in an area where Apple doesn’t make premium products. They are a premium-product company, but those are obvious.

The less obvious things are injecting creative talent into the company, if it is indeed true, as it’s been rumored, that [Beats’] Jimmy [Iovine] and Ian [Rogers] are coming over. I know Jimmy and Ian pretty well, and I think the more creative talent they can get in there — given their history and what people look to them for — they’ll be not only in music but in other areas like television and video. I guess that’s my gut reaction as to why they might be doing this.

I don’t know. I don’t know what [Apple CEO Tim] Cook’s judgment is about the people they have there now. But the people they have there now are the people who were with Jobs when he did the various creative things, iTunes and all that other stuff, over the years.

But look, Apple is going through a reset. There’s just no way around it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it was forced on them by somebody dying who was an extraordinary figure, so they’re going through a reset. You can see how they chose to run their store. Somebody who turned out to be the wrong person. Now they went to somebody who knows a lot about fashion and style. It wouldn’t be surprising if they thought that they needed to build up this creative part, too, without necessarily feeling like anyone else was inadequate.

But I do agree that Apple needs to get better in the cloud. Apple very deliberately — and this was very much Steve Jobs’ point of view — Apple has concentrated its cloud efforts on being invisible. So in other words, stuff just would sync and appear. You change your contacts on one of your devices and it would appear on all your devices changed. And, by the way, they were doing that before some of these other competitors.

But they have the point of view that they didn’t want to create a big Dropbox-like repository in the cloud. They may have to change that, because I think people having a visible sense of where their stuff is in the cloud, of what to look for, matters.

There’s another area where they probably have to do something. They were early, and it was kind of cool with the Photo Stream, where every picture you took on your iPhone, which as far as I know is the most-used phone camera, or maybe any camera, at least in the developed world. And so any picture it took, as you know if you use their products, is sent to all your Apple devices. Well, there are two issues there. One is the limits on it. Other people have now taken the approach that they’ll match up everything in an unlimited way. So I think they have to change that.

Secondly, they need to go cross platform on certain things. In my opinion, they have an interesting decision — not unlike some Microsoft decisions that have had to be made — about whether something like FaceTime or something like iMessage wouldn’t be even a bigger deal if they worked on everybody’s platform. Those are all cloud things that they have to kind of figure out, get into order, and we’ll just have to see what they wind up doing.

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