Listen Up: Beats Audio Accelerates Innovation to Become a Billion-Dollar Business


Did you hear that?  Did you hear the voice of the consumer singing a sweet song about their needs, dreams and desires?  Rapper/producer Dr. Dre and record mogul Jimmy Iovine heard it, and they crafted it into their latest hit:  beats audio.

There’s been a lot of chatter about beats audio in the news recently, with speculation that Apple is planning to purchase the company for $3.2 billion grows louder and louder.  While we may not all agree that this is a smart business decision, we can agree that beats audio has grown from a simple idea to a billion-dollar business very rapidly.

How did they accomplish such a feat?  First, they didn’t fall victim to the many pitfalls that plague the development process.  Instead they focused on factors that we at Ipsos believe are necessary to successfully accelerate the innovation process… 


The foundation of any successful innovation is a strong insight.  The beats audio team recognized a void in the music industry and that was the quality of the media being consumed.  Many people were listening to music using suboptimal earbuds provided with the device they were using.  To Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine the plastic earbuds were destroying the feeling and emotion behind the music they were making, and they wanted to create something to help consumers experience what it was like to be in the studio, and beats audio was born.


Being prominent members of the music industry Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine had access to a large number of artists and fans, who turned into their personal focus group and product testers.  These people knew what the music should sound like and their feedback was critical to the development of the early prototypes.  It turned into an iterative process with Dre and Iovine continuously optimizing the idea and product until it met their standards.


The most successful innovations are those that have relevant differentiation, and this is exactly the type of advantage beats audio has right now.  Jimmy Iovine talked about this at the HP Leadership conference in 2010:

“Best Buy said we want this.  We believe this is differentiated, and we believe this is a value for our consumer.  Who wants their music to sound bad?  No one.  People love music; they love the emotion of it.”

While there were some critics of the new headphones, the beats audio team realized they had a great product that was unique to the competition, and was something consumers truly wanted.

All of these factors contributed to the growth and appeal of beats audio.  It also helped that Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre were not afraid to take risks and had an amazing marketing strategy.  While it might have seemed unlikely a few years ago, don’t be surprised if the next time you see the beats logo it looks more like this: