Apple’s $US3.2 billion interest in Beats is driven, at least in part, by its desire to bring Jimmy Iovine into the company.
Iovine is the cofounder of Beats. He previously cofounded Interscope Records. Before all that, he produced music, including “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen’s greatest record and one of the best albums in history.
In addition to Iovine, Apple will get Dr. Dre and Ian Rogers, who runs Beats Music. Dre is a successful hip-hop producer. Rogers is a 40-year-old punk-rocking skater.
None of those people is an immediately obvious fit for the world’s most valuable technology company.
But then again, neither is Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, who now leads Apple’s retail operations. And neither is Paul Deneve, the former CEO of French fashion house, Yves St. Laurent, but he’s now at Apple on special projects, reporting to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple also hired Nike’s design director, Ben Shaffer.
In one of Steve Jobs’ final keynotes, he said that what makes Apple special is that it sits at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” said Jobs. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”
Jobs was a once-in-lifetime talent who could successfully imbue technology with human touches. Now that he’s gone, Cook is staffing up on people with a creative background to build the next generation of Apple’s products.
In December, John Maeda explained what makes Apple special in a book review at The Wall Street Journal. He said, “Traditionally, design is treated like marketing — a superficial way to make a product seem more desirable,” but at Apple, “the designers, in fact, were the ones creating the requirements for the technologists to achieve.”
Apple has plenty of technologically talented people. But to thrive in the next 20 years, it needs to make sure it doesn’t let those people completely take over. It needs the liberal-arts people like Iovine, Deneve, and Ahrendts to tell the technologists how to make their products appeal to normal human beings.
Watch Steve Jobs’ keynote below:
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