Apple's Beats buy joins tech and street-wise style

May 28 2014, 11:50pm CDT | by

NEW YORK (AP) — Beats Electronics' colorful, oversized headphones serve as a fashion accessory to cool kids riding the New York City subway, but as tech companies such as Apple, Samsung and others are discovering, wearable gadgets like smartwatches and Google Glass still have a long way to go to become trendy, must-have consumer items.

Apple's $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, by far the company's largest acquisition, is at least in part recognition that Beats founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine might be able to help Apple incorporate more style and flair into its premium technology gadgets —especially a coming wave of wearable devices.

Technology companies see wearables as an important area of growth beyond smartphones and tablets, and many are slowly realizing that if they expect people to wear gadgets —be they bracelets to monitor fitness activity, smartwatches to substitute smartphones or Internet-connected goggles— those devices must focus as much on form as function.

So far, the most noteworthy wearables have hardly been stylish. The standard Google Glass product looks more like something out of Star Trek than a fashion accessory. Fitness bands meant to be worn 24 hours a day are difficult to match with evening gowns or even a suit and tie.

"I guess they are accessories, but I would not say they are high fashion," says Alison Minton, a blogger who writes about accessories, jewelry and handbags on accessorygeneration.com. "There's a ways to go before they could be considered high fashion in the way Chanel would be, or Prada."

To change that, tech companies are beginning to attract top talent from the world of fashion. Apple's move comes less than a year after the iPhone and iPad inventor hired Angela Ahrendts, a respected executive who helped mold Burberry into the popular luxury brand it is today. In recent weeks, Google lured fashion and marketing executive Ivy Ross, who's worked for Calvin Klein, the Gap and Coach, to head its Google Glass unit.

"With your help, I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses: Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it? Can it help us look up and out at the world around us, and the people who share it with us?" wrote Rossin a Google Plus post.

For Ahrendts, Apple is already a luxury brand. Three years before she was hired at Apple last fall, she signaled her admiration for Apple in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

"I don't look at Gucci or Chanel or anyone," Ahrendts told the newspaper in 2010. "If I look to any company as a model, it's Apple. They're a brilliant design company working to create a lifestyle, and that's the way I see us."

To be sure, Apple has long been a trendsetter when it comes to producing elegant gadgets. Jony Ive, who designed the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple's newest mobile software system iOS7, still serves as the company's chief style visionary. But Dr. Dre and Iovine have created wildly popular headphones that young hipsters, celebrities and professional athletes adorn themselves with —even when they're not listening to music. Dre and Iovine's input will be highly valued as Apple looks to introduce its next breakthrough device.

The cultural coming-together of geeks and fashionistas is happening slowly, says Michael Londrigan, dean of academic affairs at LIM College, a fashion school in New York City. Apple's hiring of Ahrendts, he adds, "was really the start of it."

"Overall, the goal is to marry the function with the fashion, creating a wearable technology that is sort of seamless."

Indeed, the bulky nature of many wearable gadgets is what stops many people from considering them, says Minton. To her, fitness bands are reminiscent of "gigantic, oversized watches they had when I was a kid." You know, the ones with the calculator built in.

"It doesn't look like something an adult would really wear. It's functional, but when you care about fashion it's not always about function, it's more about the look," she says.

Besides the need for sleek, unobtrusive design that can be worn with a T-shirt as well as with a three-piece suit, wearable technology also faces a material challenge.

"Fitness bands are basically rubber. That's hard to appeal to fashionistas," Minton says. "That's not really a sexy kind of material."

So what's going to nudge tech companies further into the fashion world? Minton suggests partnering with well-established fashion houses such as Stella McCartney or, yes, Burberry, on limited edition collections.

"You may not need a fitness band, but if it is in Burberry plaid, you would wear it," she says. Especially if only 1,000 are made.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Sale Reportedly Beginning in China on October 10
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Sale Reportedly Beginning in China on October 10
The memo from a retail store strengthens the possibility of launching the new iPhones in China in the next month
 
 
New iPhones Includes Two Power Efficient Accelerometers
New iPhones Includes Two Power Efficient Accelerometers
A teardown reveals that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been provided with Bosch BMA280 InvenSense MPU-6700 accelerometers.
 
 
New Test Result Proves iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus having Stronger Construction
New Test Result Proves iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus having Stronger Construction
The analysts prove that the new iPhones can survive a large amount of pressure, and cannot be bent under our pockets easily
 
 
Apple Releases iOS 8.0.2
Apple Releases iOS 8.0.2
Apple fixes Touch ID drivers and mobile communication bugs with the new software update
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Rihanna approached for Bond movie?
Los Angeles, Sep 29 (IANS) Singer Rihanna has reportedly been approached for a cameo in the upcoming Bond film. The "We found love" hitmaker is said to be excited to appear in the spy thriller, reports contactmusic....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard calls on Modi
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American in the US Congress, called on visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Sunday and presented him with a ginger flower garland from Hawaii....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
143 killed in clashes against IS in Iraq
Baghdad, Sep 29 (IANS) A total of 143 people were killed Sunday in the ongoing clashes between the Iraqi security forces and militants, including of the the Islamic State (IS), security sources said. In Anbar province...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Quake in Peru kills eight
Lima, Sep 29 (IANS) At least eight people were killed and six injured following a 5.1-magnitude earthquake which jolted southern parts of Peru, authorities said Sunday. The temblor hit Paruro province in the Andean...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Bieber swaps 'bad influence' for cookbooks
Los Angeles, Sep 29 (IANS) Singer Justin Bieber has reportedly taken the decision to give up alcohol and "bad influence" friends. According to sources, the wild-child "Baby" hitmaker, now 20, has grown up and swapped...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Will build India of your dreams, join in our effort: Modi to Indians abroad (Intro Roundup)
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi connected with thousands of rapturously cheering Indian diaspora at Madison Square Garden here Sunday, promising them he would deliver on the electoral...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
David McIntosh hits back at Kelly Brook
David McIntosh insists there a ''two sides'' to his split from Kelly Brook. The former 'Gladiator' - who split from the brunette beauty, 34, earlier this week amid claims he had remained close to his ex-girlfriend...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Modi invites diaspora to 'Make in India', help clean Ganga
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday invited Indians abroad to join the "Make in India" initiative, saying the country aimed to show its strength by exploiting technology to the maximum extent...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indians have woven magic with the mouse: Modi at Madison Square
New York, Sep 28 (IANS) India was once known as a world of snake charmers, now the magic that its people have woven "with the mouse" in the IT sphere is world-renowned, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Sunday. "...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Modi announces lifelong visas for Indian diaspora
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Amid cheers from thousands of Indian-Americans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday announced several measures to ease travel to their motherland including life-long visas. "Happy?" he asked...
Read more on Politics Balla