The Financial Times reports that Apple is in late stage negotiations to acquire Beats By Dre, saying that the deal could be finalized as soon as next week. According to the report Apple is offering $3.2 billion for the company which manufactures a series of audio hardware which includes headphones and Bluetooth speakers.
FT says that Apple will acquire the streaming business alongside Beats' hardware division, with the Beats management team reporting to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The CrunchBase entry on Beats By Dre:
Established in 2006 as the brainchild of legendary artist and producer Dr. Dre and Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine, Beats Electronics provides a premium sound experience at every touch point of the consumer’s life. It is the parent company of the Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ line of high-quality headphones, Beats Audio™ HD-sound systems, and the MOG digital music service.
Possibly most appealing to Apple is Beats Music the company's recently-launched music streaming service. Apple has been rumored to enter the subscription music business for some time and Beats Music would give the company a jump start.
Beats Music launched in January 2014 and features curated playlists created by musicians and music writers. Beats Music is comparable to other streaming services like Spotify and Rdio and charges $9.99 per month for one user on up to three devices. The main difference is that Beats Music doesn't offer a free or ad-supported option.
CNET notes Beats Music's catalog of more than 20 million songs is on par with that of Spotify's, and "could become a central part of Apple's music strategy given the launch of its online radio service, iTunes Radio."
Apple and Beats declined to comment on the deal.
Update 2014-0509 1:35pm ET: Dr. Dre appears to have confirmed the transaction in a new video posted to YouTube, calling himself "the first billionaire in Hip Hop."