• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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The State of the Apple brand: What does the acquisition of Beats mean?

The word that Apple is purchasing Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones and streaming services is a bit befuddling. Basically, what does Apple need Beats for? What is the state of the Apple brand and what does the potential acquisition mean?

Beats is a successful brand and has led the revolution of music lovers using headphones instead of earphones. The use of the Apple earbuds and those of their competitors have dropped while headphones made by Beats and others have risen.

I get that part. Apple has brand permission to include Beats into its family because both have the feeling of high-end, simple and thinking differently.

But here’s one of the strange things about this union. Is Apple going to sell the headphones as Beats? Do they become iBeats? Is the Beats brand scratched?

apple_beats2_650Apple does not have any sub-brands in the conventional sense, with the iPhone, iPad and iPod all serving as a family of product brands that fulfill the umbrella brand and are easily understood. How Beats will work within that framework is one of many questions I have about the state of the Apple brand.

Another: Why does Apple need a streaming service? It already has one with iTunes Radio. My suspicion: Nobody is using it. Instead, listeners are using either Spotify or Pandora, or both. The Beats service will serve as a direct competitor to those services.

Why isn’t iTunes Radio working? It’s a strange question because there really isn’t much difference between the iTunes service and the rest. Spotify has certainly upped the game by allowing users to basically listen to whatever they want, while iTunes Radio and Pandora have limitations.

So, basically, Apple is purchasing a streaming service that can compete because its own service isn’t working. That’s a disturbing event for possibly the greatest brand in the world. Or, at least, a brand that, gulp, may be slipping.

The easy thing to say is that Apple has never been the same since Steve Jobs died. If you read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, that would be the natural conclusion because Jobs was involved with everything.

Something has been amiss at Apple in recent years. Its only new products have just been updates to its current ones and even its marketing has become to look like its competition. (Too many shots of flying kites and walking on beaches for my taste.) It used to be you knew an Apple spot within the first few seconds. (Remember PC vs. Mac?) Now, you wait for the end just like everyone else’s ads to know who it is for.

I’m not here to say that Apple is in trouble. Not by a long shot. It is still the richest company in the world and it is still coveted brand. But the potential acquisition of Beats has me wondering. What’s happening with the Apple brand?

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