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Apple is in "exploratory talks" to acquire Tidal, the streaming music service run by Jay-Z, the Wall Street Journal reports. Recode has confirmed that the companies are discussing a deal.
The fact that Tidal, which has been shopping itself for some time, is now talking to a buyer with incredibly deep pockets — and a streaming service — is not a surprise. (An Apple rep declined to comment.)
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Why might Apple buy Tidal? How much would it pay?
One thing seems certain: This is a different situation from when Tim Cook, Eddy Cue and company paid $3 billion for Beats two years ago. Then, it was acquiring several executives, including Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, plus the Beats Music team and a hardware business that was selling lots of expensive headphones.
Tidal, on the other hand, has much less to offer. In some ways, it would be a tuck-in; in others, a take-out.
Apple also probably doesn't have much competition for this deal, so it would be in a strong position. Samsung, the most logical buyer, walked away from its earlier talks with Tidal, according to a source close to the deal. Spotify can't afford it. Google, which also owns a streaming service, could possibly also be interested for similar reasons as Apple. All this is worth something, but not a ton.