After weeks of speculation, the true reason and vision behind Apple’s acquisition of Beats could be at hand. A recent article by Forbes theorizes that Apple may have intentions to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack from its devices. If this prediction turns out to be true, then Apple users everywhere will be forced to replace their current headphones with compatible ones. What would be the first and most widely-available brand of upgrade? That’s right. Beats.
The connecting-of-the-dots is based off a news leak from 9to5Mac. It was somehow discovered that Apple had submitted a new MFi (made for) licensing for headphones, which would use Apple’s Lightning port instead of the standard 3.5mm jack. All that is needed for this change to happen is a software update to flip the switch. Apple devices running iOS 7.1 or later would be affected.
This is not the first time that Apple has shaken things up. Remember the switch from the 30-pin to the current Lightning connector? Overnight, so many products and accessories were made obsolete by that one move. Apple raked in the profits as loyalists purchased brand new equipment or settled for expensive, bulky adaptors.
Other companies that want to manufacture and sell MFi accessories will have to pay fees to Apple to do so. Since Apple now owns Beats, it will be able to keep most of its own profits by not having to pay licensing fees for Beats-branded gear. Follow the money, and you can see how the purchase of Beats Electronics is a standard Apple move.
Personal audio is hot right now in the consumer marketplace. The interest in higher-quality music is also on the rise (e.g. Neil Young’s Pono Player). Apple would be killing (at least) two birds with one stone. Proprietary headphones lock users into Apple’s ecosystem, and the Lightning connector has digital advantages over the analog 3.5mm jack.
By stepping away from the universal standard, Apple, once again, challenges the rest of the industry. If all of this turns out to be true, there is little doubt that Apple will leverage the power and functionality of this change over its rivals.