Apple wants Beats' Jimmy Iovine to run a video biz?

Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson makes some predictions on why the tech giant is said to be looking to buy the high-end headphones maker.

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Beats Electronics CEO Jimmy Iovine. Dan Farber/CNET

The question on a lot of people's minds is why would Apple throw down $3.2 billion for the high-end-headphones maker Beats Electronics. Well, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson said he thinks he knows why.

In an interview with Billboard Magazine, the biographer said he dug through some of the unpublished notes he took when he was writing "Steve Jobs" and came upon something interesting -- certain conversations Jobs had with longtime music industry executive Jimmy Iovine in 2002 and 2003.

But first, let's back up. Iovine, along with rapper Dr. Dre, founded Beats in 2008. The company is best known for a top-selling line of headphones; it also plays in the competitive market for subscription-based, streaming music, with a mobile service that, unlike Apple's iTunes and iTunes Radio, offers ad-free, on-demand music listening for about $10 per month.

So, does Apple want in on Beats streaming music business? No, said Isaacson -- what Apple wants is for Iovine to run its content business, chiefly video.

It's been long rumored that Apple is working on a TV product but the company has been unable to get content owners to agree to sign on. According to Isaacson, Iovine was a key player in helping Jobs get the top five music labels to sign onto the iTunes Store in 2002. He also assisted Jobs in the deal to create the special U2 edition of the iPod. For a TV product, Iovine could be extremely valuable in building relationships with content owners.

This isn't the first time it's been predicted that Apple is looking to hire Iovine. Earlier this month, the New York Post claimed that Apple was in talks with Iovine for him to become a "special adviser" to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

When contacted by CNET, Apple declined to comment.

Updated May 21 at 7:45 p.m. PT to note that Apple declined to comment.

 

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