as we were getting ready to launch, the rumours of Apple buying Beats came out,” Levine says. “I can’t tell you how many people I had reaching out to me saying ‘Are you okay? This can’t be good for you.’ For 24 hours I was a bit unnerved because it was big, big news. But then I realised Beats was not our core competition. It was really the other companies.
“I literally think the best thing that happened to us was Apple buying Beats. Anytime there are one or two brands that dominate a category, that’s easier to compete in, rather than everything being flat. If 20 people have five per cent of the market, it’s hard to differentiate and figure out how you’re going to grab a few percentages. But when one or two players have 50 or 60, or whatever the numbers are, I think it’s easier. If it wasn’t for Beats I wouldn’t have entered the category, because it shows you can compete with something new. Pretty much every company that tried to become ‘the next Beats’ by competing with Beats doesn’t exist because people say, ‘Why would I want that copy of Beats, when I can go and buy the real Beats and feel good about it?’”
Still, I suggest, it can’t have been the easiest market to go into. It’s not like the world was crying out for another headphone brand.
“It’s funny,” he says. “Before we launched, friends and family would ask what I was up to. Everybody, even eight months after we