Apple Close to Buying Beats Electronics

Apple could be close to making the biggest acquisition in the company’s history, offering $3.2 billion to purchase headphone maker Beats Electronics, which recently launched a streaming music service.

Should the deal close, it would mark a major payout for Beats founders and music industry icons Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, who launched the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company in 2008. Its products were produced by Monster Cable until 2012, when founders bought back control of the company from Monster and mobile hardware maker HTC.

A deal could be announced next week, individuals close to the companies say.

The deal stands out not only for Beats’ holdings, but because Apple rarely buys other companies to bolster its bottom line. That’s changed under Apple chief Tim Cook, who has dug into the company’s $133 billion coffers and acquired 24 companies in the past 18 months. He is considering other additions to the company to help its products stand out from rivals, including Samsung, and inject a “cool factor” back into the company that has relied on iTunes, its iPhone and iPads for far too long.

The Beats deal would make a lot of sense for Apple.

Beats has established itself as a major player in the industry with its colorful line of headphones. And its music streaming service, which launched in January for $10 a month, would be used to tune up a streaming service Apple has been developing internally. Beats Music competes with Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora and Last.fm.

The Beats brand is also licensed to others under the Beats Audio brand and can be found in cars made by Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat, HTC smartphones and HP computers.

Apple and Beats have declined to comment on the talks. The Financial Times first reported the news.

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