Beats Electronics, the headphone juggernaut fronted by Dr. Dre, is currently in talks to become Apple’s newest acquisition for a cool $3.2 billion dollars. It’s a giant step away from the tech giant’s normal method of purchasing much smaller-profile companies for specific technologies that they want to assimilate into their design, and many agree that it’s a shift in the way Apple is doing business for good.
Yet, no one seems happier about this than Tyrese. Remember him?
Oh yeah, Dre even managed to crack a smile there for a minute. Why wouldn’t he? He stands to make around a billion dollars off the deal. Some argue that Dre’s side of the deal is closer to around $800 million, but what’s a few hundred million to someone like Doc?
While talking heads argue endlessly over the wisdom of Apple’s biggest acquisition to date, a small but important target demographic is being left out. People aren’t taking into account how this purchase fits like the horn-rimmed non-glasses or thrift store plaid shirt on everyone’s favorite trendy amalgamation of shitty attitudes, the hipster. Today’s greasy-haired, bearded misfit who loves the obscure and obtuse, the renewable and the organic. The only thing they love better than reveling in their bohemian lifestyles is telling other people how much better it is than anything else ever.
Now, to be fair – most people who look like hipsters aren’t. This article focuses on the aggregated stereotype of a very broad swath of people, and the undesirable behaviors that can, but many times do not, develop – music snobbery, misinformed but incredibly zealous convictions, and shallow motivations to name a few. The following are some of the finer points of this acquisition that fits the hipster lifestyle like a false sense of entitlement.
5 It’s A Natural Addition To Their Look, Regardless Of How It Gets There
While most may think that hipsters would be rather nonplussed about this (when aren’t they?), they’ve never extended that mentality towards their gadgets, iPhone 5s and MacBooks are standard issue. Apple has always been in the hipster’s wheelhouse, even when a job and a car isn't. $4,000 for a computer, $600 for a phone and just walking to Trader Joe’s may seem like a wise decision for someone who lives in a big city with decent public transportation, but that’s not really the case.
In 2011, North America created around 3.41 million tons of e-waste and only recycled around 25 percent of it, releasing several tons of CO2 into the atmosphere as it was incinerated and in the process wasted precious metals such as silver, palladium, and copper.
If there’s one thing hipsters hate more than popularity, it’s authority. Yet if there’s one thing that Beats is powered by, it’s the man. The tech behind the famous logo was ruthlessly taken away from its creators by Jimmy Iovine, the man who executive produced the soundtrack to notoriously awful movie Roadhouse. But it doesn’t stop there.
The Occupy Wall Street movement became an international phenomenon by virtue of it being the only semi-meaningful display of civil disobedience America had seen since the 70s. While that’s all well and good, it attracted hipsters like free clove cigarettes at Coachella. So it is therefore a sweet irony that just under fifty percent of Beats is owned by the Carlyle Group.
Who are they? Well, the Carlyle Group is a wall street giant that not only owns several large defense companies tied to the US government, once had ties to the bin Laden family (yeah, THAT one), and still does business with the Bush family (Dubya’s family). They are the very thing the Occupy Movement is rallying against. Oops.
4 Fashion Accessory-Ception
The one thing Apple has always left a third-party to do is create accessories for their products. However, with the purchase of a company like Beats, Apple has opened the door to selling headphones that don’t suck. Beats has a line of fifteen different headphones, in various colors and looks, that matches Apple’s tendency to colorize its more popular devices.
Now, Beats isn’t known in the audiophile community for creating top-notch headphones, but honestly, anything has got to be better than those god-awful ear buds Apple gives away like a local politician gives out jar openers with his name on it. Maybe we won’t be throwing out the headphones our iPhone 6 will be coming with.
When it comes to headphones, the bigger the better with hipsters. What better way to display that they’re listening to something you’ve never heard of? While Apple tends to overcharge its customers for basic tech (those ear buds? $30.), Beats is the undisputed master of price-jacking. The price range for a pair of ‘phones from Beats ranges between $99-$450. Reportedly, it costs about $15 dollars to make a set of the fashionable cans, netting Dr. Dre and company a bare minimum profit of 666%, mark of the beast pun not intended. For comparison, Apple supposedly makes about a 100% profit off of its sales.
But the upgrades don’t stop at peripherals. A quick survey of the Beats website shows that they also supply sound hardware to smartphones, computers, and even cars. HP and HTC have had their products enhanced with Beats audio, so seeing the new MacBook or iPhone with the Beats logo emblazoned somewhere inconspicuous (along with a sizable price increase) is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
3 For-Profit Music Snobbery
Many believe that a major motivation behind Apple’s most recent purchase is the streaming music service Beats has, and what it might be able to do for the flagging sales of the iTunes store. Apple has their own streaming service in iTunes Radio, but it currently only exists for iOS. Bringing Beats Music into the fold could potentially expand iTunes Radio’s platform to cover Android and Windows platforms, bracing for the shift from download-centric music consumption to a more cloud-based streaming model.
What does this do for the hipster mentality? Well, put it this way: it’s the most efficient way of finding obscure bands to maintain an elitist music snob atmosphere with minimal effort. It’s the perfect storm of “meh” and “before they were famous,” with a cross-current of “underground.”
2 It’s An Open Invitation To Exploit A Whole New Culture
Hipsters, if anything, have been known for their sensitivity towards other cultures.
Okay, so hipsters are notorious for appropriating other cultures just to look cool. They've been berated consistently by the Native American communities for their tendencies to wear sacred headdresses and war bonnets just because they look cool. Unfortunately, this is closer to someone wearing the pope’s mitre because they think pointy hats look cool, and to the Native Americans, it comes off just like blackface.
With the deep hip-hop roots and urban theme running throughout Beats look and PR campaign, we might just see hipsters making the shift from headdresses to kente cloth.
1 The Irony Is So Meta, Even They Can’t Grasp It
Irony is always a big part of any hipster’s repertoire, from t-shirts that are so lame they deem them ironically cool to a pair of shutter shades matched with a corduroy sweater vest and a pair of skinny canvas pants to match. Yet, a hipster buying a Beats/Apple brand of headphones is so ironic that it transcends the “deserving-of-patronization” most hipster attitudes receive to become something so hipsterly ironic, that the hipster must not be a hipster to get it at all. Consider this third definition of irony as brought to us by Google:
“a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character's words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.”
So imagine we have a hipster with his new B/A headphones. He plugs them into his brand-new MacBook Pro, supplied with Beats audio. The cans set him back a cool five bills, and the compy took him back a ten-spot, ‘cause he’s going into video editing at junior college. Both purchases combined netted Apple a 766% profit margin minimum, and thanks to Apple’s already outsourced labor force, his new headgear only cost about $20 to make.
He takes them both to a coffee shop he lives a few blocks away from and sets up shop, ordering a tea. While there, he blogs about social injustice and listens to a band he just found out about this morning but will claim he has been listening to for at least six months. The Carlyle Group has made over 1 billion dollars in the trade-off between Apple and Beats, giving them more capital to invest elsewhere, possibly to create the Übermensch or something.
When a friend stops in to say hello, he will brag about this new band, and his new computer. The friend will respond with approval, and then tell the hipster “he’s more of a Windows guy.” The hipster will then go on a tirade, telling him about the cruelty with which Windows components are made, and how Macs are the equivalent of free-range livestock when it comes to the slaughterhouse Windows uses to make its wares.
To this, the friend will dart his eyes around the room, because the hipster’s rant was loud enough for the entire shop to hear. It is then that the friend realizes: the hipster is the character, and the people in the coffee shop are the audience. And the hipster’s full significance of his words and actions are clear to all: To make everyone think he’s a close-minded douchebag.
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