BeatsEditor: Alex Dobie
Beats Electronics is best known for its range of headphones, speakers and other audio equipment — but the company, founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, also has close ties to the mobile world.
Beats Audio and partnership with HTC
In August 2011, HTC — then the dominant force in the Android world — acquired a majority share in Beats for $309 million. In the months that followed, HTC and Beats partnered to bring several Android handsets to market "with Beats Audio," including the Sensation XE, Sensation XL and Rezound. HTC sought to differentiate these products with Beats branding and software audio enhancements designed to boost bass. Some devices even came bundled with high-end "urBeats" earphones — renamed from "iBeats" for obvious reasons.
In 2012, the majority of HTC's smartphones, including the flagship HTC One series, featured Beats Audio software enhancements — however most shipped with standard earphones rather than the more expensive Beats cans.
During this time Beats operated as an independent company, partnering with HP to launch laptops and tablets "with Beats Audio," although HTC remained the exclusive mobile partner.
Beats Music and breaking free of HTC
In July-2013 HTC sold back half of its 50.1 percent share in Beats to the company's founders, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, following diverging fortunes for the two companies. Beats was growing and seeking to expand beyond headphones, while HTC's revenues fell. Then in September, following a tough year for HTC, and rumors that the Beats partnership was about to end, the Beats founders bought back HTC's remaining 25 percent stake in the company. HTC's biggest Android device of late 2013, the One Max, appeared weeks later without Beats branding of any kind.
In early 2014 Beats launched its long-rumored streaming audio service, Beats Music. For $9.99 per month this subscription service aimed to set itself apart by focusing on curated collections of music, rather than the algorithmically-chosen playlists offered by competitors such as Spotify and Google.