Apple is negotiating the purchase of Beats Electronics for a reported $3.2 billion. Founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop artist Dr.Dre, Beats is famed for its range of brightly-coloured headphones, which successfully supplanted Apple’s white earbuds as a status symbol for music lovers. The brand dominates the premium headphone market, owning over 62% of revenues for the $100+ price bracket.
Apple is also set to gain the newly launched Beats Music streaming service, which competes with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music and Last FM. This acquisition could prove extremely valuable in the long run, despite having only 111,000 registered users (compared with Spotify’s 24 million active users). Since revitalising the music industry with iTunes, recent sales of music downloads have declined dramatically, and Apple’s iTunes Radio and iTunes Match have failed to impress the music community. Considering Apple aren’t short on cash, the solution to it’s problem may well be to buy an existing service with potential for growth. The brand equity of the Beats Music streaming platform, combined with Apple’s financial might and huge user-base, could prove a formidable force in the competitive money-losing streaming business.
Privacy for your privates
Frisky teenagers across the globe began panicking this week as Snapchat was forced to admit that user photos don’t actually disappear forever. The messaging app’s success was built on the appeal of messages that are automatically deleted after a short time-frame, although this claim has been found to be false by the FTC, noting the many downloadable apps that allow users to permanently store messages, without the knowledge of the sender. The app’s recent update to a full-fat messaging service has been met with mixed reception, causing its teen users even more angst than usual, but despite this and its downright sneaky behaviour, the popularity of the app has been steadily increasing.
The news comes in the same week that Google is forced to allow European users to edit search results for their name. The ruling by the European Union means all online search providers will have to remove search results when requested by individuals, not just in cases where the search results are illegal or infringe copyrights, but now in cases where they are embarrassing or inconvenient, promising users an improved level of privacy.
Keepod is a small, unassuming USB stick that intends to bridge the huge digital divide in developing countries. The startup, founded by Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi, is essentially a portable operating system on a disk, giving users a personalised computing experience, even on old, shared hardware. The project is being tested in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where the typical income is £1.20 a day, where the reality of owning a personal computer seems beyond the reach of many.
The usb sticks are loaded with a unique version of Google Android, adapted to run on any computer with a screen, keyboard and basic processor, solving the problem of running modern software on outdated hardware. 8GB of storage can be used to keep user data, apps and preferences. Keepod’s solution offers a promising alternative to the likes of Microsoft’s Windows XP, which is still widely used in developing countries because of its basic hardware requirements, despite not being officially supported or updated any longer.
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