Last week, when Apple bought Beats Electronics for $3 billion, many scratched their heads at what was a most un-Apple acquisition. In a letter to his company on the deal, Apple CEO Tim Cook spun it as another forward-thinking move by a company that has long prided itself on being ahead of the curve — particularly with engaging younger users.
And, according to student survey data from the education technology company Chegg, Cook might have been onto something.
Of the 10,000 students surveyed by Chegg, nearly all had heard of Beats prior to the deal, even though only 15 percent purchased Beats products. While only about three percent of those asked said they used Beats’ music subscription streaming service, 60 percent were aware of the Apple-Beats merger. As for the deal itself, half the students said the deal would make Apple more popular among students, and nearly a quarter think it will make Apple more “cool.”
This is largely good, albeit unsurprising, news for Apple, which has long dominated the college market. In most college lecture halls across the country, you’ll see rows and rows of MacBooks — many of which were purchased using Apple’s educational discount or in Apple-affiliated campus stores. Still, more and more young people are streaming music using services other than iTunes. Spotify has more than 40 million subscribers, and 40 percent of its American users are between the ages of 18 and 24.
In conversation a few days ago, Cook told Re/code that part of what he believes will make Beats (and Apple) competitive with companies like Spotify is not just Beats’ hardware, but also the “human curation” of its subscription streaming service. Regardless of Cook’s confidence in Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to take Beats from its 250,000 current users to numbers on par with its competitors, they’ll need to get the word out about Beats streaming, as only 61 percent of the students surveyed by Chegg were even aware Beats had a subscription music service.