We recently reported on HTC's decision to stop bundling Beats Audio headphones with its handsets.
Now in itself that doesn't necessarily mean the Taiwanese firm is regretting spending $300m on the audio brand last year. At least it doesn't until you throw in the fact that the CFO who set the deal up has now been shifted aside after less than a year in the job.
Mainstream consumer electronics has not been kind to the audio industry over the years. While we've pushed forward relentlessly with display and graphics technologies, we're quite happy to accept integrated audio in our PCs, and listen to our MP3s on the train through rubbish headphones.
With all that in mind, spending $300 million on a digital audio brand when you're own position among the mobile phone elite is looking the shakiest it has in years is, well, nuts.
But that's not what HTC chief financial officer Winston Yung thought when hammering out the deal to by Beats Audio by Dr Dre. It was a huge punt on a brand that could only guarantee value from a marketing point of view.
While people will buy a phone for its display quality, and might even do so purely because of its camera quality (or at least Nokia hopes so), people just aren't going to choose a handset for its audio smarts, never mind a pair of bundled headphones. They'll happily accept it as a bonus feature, but it'll never be the prime reason for buying the device in the first place.
All of which will no doubt finally get through to Mr Yung in his new corporate development role at HTC – a position that smacks of being the corporate equivalent of a comfy chair right next to the exit door.
It's too early to say what the move means for Beats Audio's future itself, but all things considered we imagine new CFO Chia-Lin Chang would be sorely tempted to cut the division loose again if the right sum of money was offered.
Via The Verge