Beats president Luke Wood
Beats Electronics is going for a solo performance this holiday.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based purveyor of high-end Beats by Dre audio gear is introducing on Tuesday its first set of products created on its own, without the benefit of its prior manufacturing arrangement with Monster Cable.|
The two new products, aimed at two separate demographics, include Beats Executive headphones and Beats Pill portable speakers.
At $299.95, the Beats Executive noise canceling headphones targets the same traveling executives marketed to by Bose Corp.
The second product, the Beats Pill, is a $199 wireless portable speaker the size of a 16-ounce water bottle. Shaped like a capsule, the Pill is designed to speak to a younger audience that likes to share their music on the go with their friends. It's the kind of thing that John Cusack's character in the 1989 movie "Say Anything…" would be holding up to play "In Your Eyes" if it were filmed today.
Beats' new offerings represent the first generation of products created in-house as the company sunsets its contract with Monster Cable to manufacture and distribute Beats devices.
Beats president Luke Wood would not say why the company is not renewing its contract with Monster, except to say in an interview that, "We felt we had to have complete control of our products."
"This is our first product without the Monster brand, and we see it as a chance to articulate what's important to us," Wood said.
Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine created the company in 2006. Together with Monster, Beats redefined the headphones business from one dominated by cheap earbuds to a $1 billion-and-growing market in which people think nothing of dropping $300 for a pair of headsets.
The company last year had 29% of the U.S. headphones market, according to the NPD Group. Among premium headsets priced above $100, Beats commanded 56% of the market.
Parting ways with Monster Cable, a move announced in January , meant that Beats had to bring a new set of expertise in-house. The company is on track to double its workforce from 150 in July to nearly 300 by the end of the year, adding manufacturing engineers, customer service reps and supply chain managers, among others.
Meanwhile, Monster is making its own moves by partnering  with rapper/actor Nick Cannon, who is married to Mariah Carey. The product lineup, dubbed NCredible, includes a line of premium earphones and headphones that look very similar to Beats by Dre branded devices.
Wood said Beats plans to knock out the competition this fall by highlighting its founders' roots in music recording and engineering.
"In our earlier careers, we spent hours sweating the details," Wood said, "things like the breath that singers take between each line. That's what we want to recreate with Beats Executive and Beats Pill, which we think is pure sex."