Apple’s culture quest leaving Beats’ African-American aestheticism behind?

“Beats is arguably the world’s most iconic headphone brand. Its success was built on the popularity of hip hop culture and catapulted to new heights when Apple acquired the company. The tech giant hasn’t made many updates to the product and even failed to mention Beats last week at its Fall preview event,” Kori Hale writes for Forbes. “Is Apple leaving Beats and African-American aestheticism behind?”

“Apple needed to tap into black culture to differentiate its headphone product from the competition. The company shelled out around $3 billion to acquire Beats back in 2014,” Hale writes. “Herein lies the dilemma for Apple, even though they own Beats outright, it’s clearly in direct competition with their in-house AirPods brand.”

“The last major launch was the BeatsX neckband-based Bluetooth earphones back in 2016, other lines have received basic incremental updates. Despite the lack of new innovative hardware Beats is a staple among hip hop artists and athletes alike, which has helped pushed the brand to own nearly 50% of the premium headphone market, according to Statista,” Hale writes. “Even if the company isn’t currently updating Beats products, it’s still inking very lucrative sports deals. Most recently Beats became the official partner of the NBA in a multi-year agreement. Considering the strong synergies between hip-hop and basketball, this is another sure way for Apple to use culture to increase sales.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple did just release Beats headphones and earphones in new colors to match iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR, so they are doing something with Beats hardware at least.

Earlier this month, Beats also announced a comprehensive marketing and merchandising partnership with the NBA that will make the company the official headphone, wireless speaker and audio partner of the league, so Apple’s doesn’t seem to be “leaving Beats and African-American aestheticism behind.”

Beats headphones and earphones get new colors to match iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR – September 12, 2018
Does Apple still care about their Beats subsidiary? – September 11, 2018

Apple’s Beats and NBA announce global partnership; team-branded headphones coming soon
– September 5, 2018


  1. Beats is for the teen market. That group is either buying iphones/Macs/etc second hand or getting the hand-me downs from mom and dad.
    As far as “Beats is arguably the world’s most iconic headphone brand.” You’ll have to argue long and hard to credibly establish that.

    1. Unfortunately, the article is correct on this point. When you see a pro athlete, actor, pop music artist, or celebrity wearing headphones, you almost instantly assume they are wearing Beats. They almost never wear Bose, AKG, Sony, Sennheiser, or any other brand.

    2. “You’ll have to argue long and hard”
      Not too long and hard. Definition 2 of icon and MW:
      “an object of uncritical devotion”
      I’m thinking that’s definitive of Beats right there 😀

  2. “Apple needed to tap into black culture to differentiate its headphone product from the competition.”
    No, Apple needed a streaming service that was already built that they could just put some polish on, the headphones sell themselves and were a self-supporting freebie. They don’t even advertise them much, and they’re still the lion’s share of the headphone market.

  3. “Apple needed to tap into black culture to differentiate its headphone product from the competition.”

    Easy shoot a music video like this, make sure everyone is wearing Apple wearables, right after knocking over an Apple Store in Chicago. They’ll be down with the culture then.

  4. What kind of ism is aestheticism? Seems like “aesthetic” would be a better fit. How is a product sponsorship lucrative except to the party collecting the dollars, unless it produces sales and profits surpassing the payments?

  5. Beats is hardly premium. Guess it is premium if your stereo came from Wal-Mart or the nonsense called Hip-Hop/Rap is what you call music.

    Ghetto brand. Always was, always will be. Massive waste of shareholder money.

    1. Thankfully, you are not my finanacial adviser. If something makes a profit, it is NOT a waste of shareholder money.
      A love this site, but sometimes it has the stupidest comments I’ve ever read.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.