TECH
28/05/2014 22:59 BST | Updated 28/05/2014 23:59 BST

Apple-Beats Deal Finally Announced: Weeks After Leak $3 Billion Merger Complete

Apple has finally announced its acquisition of Beats, the headphones maker and streaming music service.

Coming two weeks after the $3 billion deal was originally leaked online -- not least by Beats co-founder Dr Dre himself - it is the largest corporate merger in Apple's recent history.

Some experts had speculated that Apple's fury over the leak may have put the entire merger in jeopardy.

But the news was confirmed on Thursday regardless -- just days ahead of WWDC, Apple's developers conference and its first major product announcement of the year.

Beats is primarily known for its colourful plastic (and not especially critically lauded) headphones, as well as speakers and its Beats Music subscription service.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said it had made the investment to build "innovative music products" - presumably including some mix of the hardware and software for which Beats is known.

"Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a special place within our hearts at Apple," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement.

"That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world."

Apple said that both Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine - Beats' co-founders - will "join Apple" (though in what capacity remains to be seen).

Cook added in an interview with the New York Times that part of the attraction of Beats was the people behind it.

"You don't build everything yourself. It's not one thing that excites us here. It's the people. It's the service," he said.

"These guys are really unique... It's like finding the precise grain of sand on the beach. They're rare and very hard to find."

Beats' Iovine said he was "inspired" by the merger.

"I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,” said Iovine. "The idea when we started the company was inspired by Apple’s unmatched ability to marry culture and technology. Apple’s deep commitment to music fans, artists, songwriters and the music industry is something special.”

Apple said that the Beats brand will remain separate from Apple, and Beats Music, which competes with iTunes Radio, will continue to exist.

But Apple said that both Beats Music and its headphones and speakers division will report to Apple.

"The point is that Jimmy and Dre have built something phenomenal. And they have phenomenal skills," Cook told Recode.

"And we can begin, the instant that this deal is approved, working on the future together. And I think that future is better than either company could create on their own."

Apple described Beats in its statement as follows:

"In just five years since launch, the Beats “b” has become the brand of choice in the music and sports worlds, and is the market leader in the premium headphone market. Music superstars including Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj have designed their own customized Beats headphones and speakers. Fashion designers and street artists such as Alexander Wang, Futura and Snarkitecture have collaborated on special limited products, while renowned athletes including LeBron James, Serena Williams and Neymar use Beats as a critical part of their training and game day process. Beats has quickly become part of pop culture in the US and with the acquisition the Beats product lineup will be offered in many more countries through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers."