HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s No. 5 smartphone brand, yesterday said it plans to pay about US$309 million for a 51 percent stake in a US firm that produces high-end headphones bearing the name of superstar music producer Dr Dre.
HTC will acquire the majority stake in Beats Electronics LLC, a venture involving Dr Dre, Interscope Records and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine.
“Our strategic partnership will provide customers with unbeatable sound on HTC phones. We obsess over every detail of a consumer’s mobile experience and audio is a critical part of that experience,” HTC CEO Peter Chou (周永明) said in a statement.
The partnership will result in a line of HTC devices integrated with Beats Electronics’ sound -innovations available this fall, -according to the statement.
“Bringing these two brands together will create mobile music and sound experiences, and accelerate HTC’s entry into the youth and accessories markets globally,” it added.
Among the selling points for the headphones — which cost US$150 to US$300 — is that they supposedly offer a superior sound to the white “earbuds” that come with Apple Inc’s iPods and iPhones.
Beats Electronics has branched out beyond headphones to make products like a “Beats”-edition laptop with Hewlett-Packard Co that houses high-quality speakers.
Dr Dre is one of the most influential figures in hip-hop, both as a performer and producer of records by other artists.
His 1992 album, The Chronic, helped define the genre and has sold more than 3 million copies in the US, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
Beats Electronics will continue to operate autonomously with Iovine as chairman and Luke Wood as president and chief operating officer.
Its current business partnerships, which include Monster Cable Products Inc, Hewlett-Packard and Chrysler Group LLC, will also remain unchanged.
Iovine will continue to serve as chairman of Interscope records.
Taiwanese tech firms have previously pursued ventures with international audio firms to beef up the sound quality of their products.
Taiwanese PC giant Acer Inc (宏碁) debuted notebooks touting excellent sound quality with Dolby as early as 2007.
Netbook pioneer Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) last year partnered with Bang & Olufsen, a move which chairman Jonney Shih (施崇棠) said coincides with its strategy to incorporate the five human senses into the company’s future product designs.