HP must give up Beats Audio after Apple deal

Gregg Keizer
30 May, 2014
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Hewlett-Packard today confirmed that it will drop Beats Audio from its line of high-end PCs and tablets by the end of 2015.

HP can continue to sell PCs and tablets that include Beats Audio technology through the end of 2015.

Beats Electronics, the supplier of the technology HP includes in 15 percent to 20 percent of its consumer PCs products, including some of its tablets, will be acquired by Apple, an HP rival in personal computers and tablets.

Apple announced the deal earlier this week, saying it would pay $3 billion – most of that in cash, with some stock to vest over time – for Beats Electronics, the Santa Monica, Calif. company best known for its colourful headphones.

“HP maintains the rights through the end of 2014 to offer new products that include Beats Audio, and we will continue to offer an aggressive line-up through the year to include new products that offer the Beats Audio experience,” an HP spokeswoman confirmed in an email today.

By the terms of the agreement, HP can continue to sell systems that include Beats Audio for 12 months after the no-new-devices cut-off. By the end of 2015, HP must pull such hardware from the market.

Beats Electronics had licensed the Beats Audio moniker and the underlying technology to HP and others, including smartphone maker HTC. HP first launched Beats Audio-equipped PCs in mid-2010 with its Envy line.

Some of HP’s tablets, including upper-end configurations of its Slate 7 and Slate 10 lines, also feature Beats Audio.

The technology, which relies on a software-driven sound equaliser and is optimised for headphone listening – no surprise since Beats Electronics’ revenue is mostly driven by its Beats by Dre headphones – is used by a few auto manufacturers, including Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat.

HP declined to provide specifics about replacement plans after the Beats Audio deal expires. “HP will continue to develop and offer leading products that include premium technology experiences, including the richest and most dynamic sound experience,” the spokeswoman said.

By Gregg Keizer. Computerworld

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