Apple, takes a bite out*So now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag about the humongous acquisition that Apple is about to close in on: Spending $3.2B for Dr. Dre‘s Beats Electronics, the question being asked by many tech observers is…

Why would Apple want to buy Beats Electronics?

It’s a question many techies have been asking since the Financial Times broke the news Thursday about the Silicon Valley behemoth’s interest in the “high quality” headphones maker founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop artist Dr. Dre.

The FT suggested that Apple might be interested in Beats in order to recharge its “cool” factor at a time when streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and Rdio have become increasingly popular with young people.

Apple’s iTunes service was a longtime frontrunner on the digital music sales scene, but when it came to presenting a streaming music product, they fell flat; and the company’s flagship music brand iTunes, has been criticized over its user interface — so it seems a likely strategy that the company would be eager for outside help.

At $3.2 billion, the Beats deal would be more than three times larger than any acquisition in Apple’s history.

Apple can definitely afford the transaction — it’s sitting on more than $150 billion in cash and investments — but the company has traditionally preferred to build from within. Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs was fiercely proud of that fact. Unlike other tech giants, Apple has never made an acquisition larger than $1 billion

Until now, perhaps.

“I knew people were going to dig it, but I didn’t know it was going to be this big,” Dre told TIME in a recent interview. “I didn’t know it was going to be at this magnitude. I know that people really care about the way their music sounds. So did I know it was going to work? Yeah, but I had no idea it was going to be this massive.”

Apple’s buyout of Beats could be announced as early as next week.

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