Dr. Dre: The Next Steve Jobs?
The quirky style of the hip-hop billionaire is a perfect fit for Apple.
June 10, 2014 - 8:00 am
The Wall Street Journal’s Apple reporting is generally so bad that I rarely bother reading their stories. The widely and thoroughly discredited book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, was written by WSJ’s own Yukari Iwatani Kane, which was really the pinnacle of the kind of story WSJ routinely published about the company. So it was a bit of a shock over the weekend when just about every tech blog I read linked to this story comparing Steve Jobs with brand-new Apple employee Dr. Dre.
But there’s good stuff in there, including this:
Behind the scenes, Dr. Dre—whose real name is Andre Young —has quietly played an equally powerful role developing and protecting the Beats brand, eschewing market research for gut instinct at every turn. Though his main obsession is perfecting the sound of the company’s signature high-end headphones, the 49-year-old fitness-obsessed music producer weighs in decisively on everything from TV ads and font styles to the wordiness of descriptions on the Beats Music streaming service.
As one colleague says, Dr. Dre serves as Beats’ “cultural barometer” of what is cool.
But Dr. Dre’s process is mysterious, colleagues say: His assessments are usually immediate, personal and articulated sparely. He often dismisses ideas such as posing for clichéd photos in a recording studio as too “corny” or “cheesy.” Or he’ll wave them off with a terse “I’m not feeling that.”
The Beats acquisition is starting to make more and more sense.
It might still prove to be misguided or unprofitable, but I’m finally “feeling” what Tim Cook must have been when he decided to plunk down $3 billion for the company.
But then there’s another bit slightly further down:
Dr. Dre’s perfectionist impulse, coupled with his disregard for artificial deadlines, have meant that “he doesn’t put out a lot of material,” despite being a workaholic, said Paul Rosenberg, a lawyer and manager of one of Dr. Dre’s protégés, rapper Eminem.
That could portend friction at his new employer, Apple, which agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion last month. [Emphasis added]
Putting in tons of work on very few highly profitable products? Why, Dre sounds nothing at all like Apple, whose entire product line could fit comfortably on your kitchen table.
Isn’t there one damn reporter at that paper who understands Apple?