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Apple Should Buy Harmonix

02/26/2011
Rock Band by Harmonix

Rock Band by Harmonix

This is an idea I’ve been thinking about off and on for a year or so, but I really think Apple should buy Harmonix, specifically so they can own the Rock Band brand.

Everyone knows about and uses Apple’s iTunes. It is the single largest music distributor out there, boasting millions and sales and songs. Apple has worked hard to put iTunes at the forefront of your music experience, working hard at licensing as many artists and labels as possible. Apple’s recent triumph in obtaining the Beatles in the iTunes library is proof of how hard they try to bring as many bands as possible to the service. Apple has also seen a company wide revolution with their iPod and iPhone devices, both of which sync with iTunes, allowing you to carry your music anywhere.

Last April, Apple hired Matt Casamassina, formly the editor of the Nintendo channels on IGN (and self-admitted Apple fanboy), as the Games Editor for iTunes…a job I’m sure is utterly exhausting. I used to read Matt’s blog regularly when he was on IGN, and he knows his gaming stuff. Based on Apple’s hiring of Matt Cassamassina and how aggressively they have been pushing casual gaming on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad (but surprisingly not so much on OS X, which is a shame), it looks like Apple is trying hard to position themselves as a major gaming brand, but to an entirely different group of gamers than companies have traditionally aimed toward. If Apple were to buy Harmonix, Matt Casamassina would be an excellent executive manager of the brand.

Harmonix’s Rock Band is pretty much the king of the music video game genre. Their Rock Band Network has allowed hundreds of local artists to find a new audience by digital distribution directly into players homes. Many major artists have licensed entire albums to Harmonix for inclusion in their games, and some have even licensed their likenesses and personalities directly, such as The Beatles and Green Day. If Apple were to buy Harmonix, they could perfectly sync iTunes with Rock Band. Imagine unlocking songs in Rock Band which allows you to download songs in iTunes that you can sync with your iPhone or iPod? They would have a near perfect monopoly on all aspects of the music scene.

Plus, Apple would now have an in with other video game companies, as officially licensed Apple products would be playable on Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles. Plus, Apple would be in a position to build a deep source of revenue at low cost to themselves, thus giving them the cash flow to start micro-studios focused on gaming, but using Apple exclusive design, management, and networking principles that Steve Jobs has been famous for.

It makes sense for Apple to buy Harmonix. I’m not sure what’s stopping them from being a major player in another area of our lives.

I know this is pretty much a pipe dream…but it’s a good one.

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