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Apple Confirms Purchase of Beats For $3 Billion

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  • by AcquaCow (56720) <acquacow.hotmail@com> on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:21PM (#47113993) Homepage

    ...but I appreciate what their marketing team has done for the rest of the headphone industry...

    • What do you mean?

      Note: I have Senns HD 380 Pro and the old Sony MDR 7506's

      • by Farmer Tim (530755) <(moc.sseldnim) (ta) (elifdnuor)> on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:06PM (#47114553) Journal

        I think he means they make any other headphones look like high quality bargains by comparison.

        • by symes (835608)

          In particular, they have made over ear headphones popular. Which is great as those in ear things make my ears hurt. I wouldn't buy Beats but do have some nice earphones and don't mind wearing them in public.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          Seriously they aren't that bad.....but then they aren't worth what they cost either. Kind of like most products that are overpriced like all these chinese made shoes with Nike and other high cost brands on them that cost about 30 times what the actual cost of producing them is. Everything is that way. Overpriced cars, motorcycles, clothes, etc. Brand names sell. Who knows this better than Apple? They claim a premium on hardware that is certainly overpriced compared to most peecees even if they do have

          • by P-niiice (1703362)
            No they aren't bad at all, and thousands of internet sound engineers have taken the 'overpriced' description and interpreted that as 'total crap'. They're not bad headphones - good ones actually, just not as good as their price, and too bassy for some. They're a fashion statement - pay less and get the same or better sound, or wear the fashion and pay for that privilege.
        • by stms (1132653)

          I think he means that beats made "high quality headphones"* sexy. Which in turn made the average Joe consumer actually care about the quality of their audio gear. Which helps nerds like you and me get better priced audio gear because big companies see the value of investing in the production of high quality audio gear.
          *I use the term "high quality headphones" loosely because beats aren't great but they are much better than what most people were using before.

          • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @01:11AM (#47116833)
            They're really not that great. They're built for a single type of music (things that go thump). Try listening to something like an Opera or a Symphony and they'll quickly fall to shambles. They're unbalanced, there's no definition of sound, the soundstage is only decent on the low end, the frequency response is worse than you can find on most earbuds... they're pretty bad. And they're overpriced.
            • by Jesus_666 (702802)
              Remember that many people still use earbuds for five bucks with such a bad quality that they honestly can't tell the difference between a 128 kbps MP3 and CD audio. Beats may not be good but they are vastly better than ultra-cheap earbuds.

              Then again, so are other earphones with smaller price tags.
            • There are many types of music that go thump. Most people do not want to listen to opera or symphony (those should not be capitalized by the way; it only serves to make you look even more self-congratulatory and condescending). No one wants balanced headphones but studio engineers.

              There are better "quality" headphones in the price range of Beats but style is important to a lot of people (although I think they're pretty ugly). Let's cut the "I am superior because I buy a different brand than you" nonsense.

              • by scubamage (727538)
                Wow, way to have a completely tangential conversation. Sorry if I pissed in your punch, but your generalizations about music tastes of the populace, and desires of the market while completely ignoring actual facts about the hardware make me pretty sure you need to reread what slashdot is - news for nerds. Some of us are audiophiles. Some of us are musicians. Some of us are sound techs. A lot of us DO care about those numbers on the back of the box, and what they translate to when you experience the music. I
                • It wasn't tangential. Beats are optimized for listening to a different type of music. Their name is even derived from it. You used it as am opportunity to let everyone know that you listen to Opera and Symphony. I know it's common on Slashdot for people to try to validate their sense of superiority based on brands they buy / music they listen to / how they shave their face but that doesn't make it any more valid.

                  It's just false that their "frequency response is worse than you can find in most earbuds". I do

                  • by scubamage (727538)
                    You do realize that classical music is used for rating headphones, yes? It's not because I listen to it exclusively, it's because it provides opportunities to see if there is enough clarity and definition of sound to do things like determine if you can tell violins from violas from cellos, or tell the horns apart. Read professional headphone reviews. It's not a matter of "superiority," it's stated because it's a tool in determining quality. Given you didn't know that, I'm pretty sure most of your other poin
                    • Why would I be butthurt that a brand I didn't like was technically inferior? Given that you can't even make a logically consistent sentence I am pretty sure your other points are moot (see- both can play at that game)

                      Fun fact: "music that goes thump" as you put it does not feature a lot of violins, violas or cellos to tell apart. A balanced set of headphones are technically superior to an unbalanced set if perfect sound reproduction is your metric. Few people use that as a metric (audiophiles definitely inc

                    • by scubamage (727538)
                      "A balanced set of headphones are technically superior to an unbalanced set if perfect sound reproduction is your metric."

                      Given that the job of headphones is to reproduce the soundwaves indicated by an audio source, I'm pretty sure that is the only metric that matters. Or, tell me, why should we pay hundreds of dollars for equipment that can't reproduce sound properly?

              • > No one wants balanced headphones but studio engineers.

                I should call "Bullshit", but instead I'll say:

                [Citation needed]

                • I should have used the more technical "flat-response" to be more clear with my meaning but here is a citation from Audio Technica [audio-technica.com]. They clearly recommend choosing a pair of headphones based on what sounds best with the music you listen to. There is no "best" headphone; flat-response is not universally desired.

                  It is a lot like computer monitors. A graphic artist needs a monitor that faithfully represents colours. Most general users think a glossy laptop screen looks "better". A lot of people like the sound

          • I think the mass consumerism angle is a good point and the main reason why we now have all these high-quality alternatives to the iPhone. Only three years ago, everything android sucked in comparison. I say this as a big fan of over-ear Sennheiser headphones (I have a nice inexpensive set of HD 202 right here at work).
        • Gotcha.

          Gotta agree with that. :-)

    • by glwtta (532858)
      You mean driven the price of "legitimately worth $350" headphones to $500?

      Have you seen the Denon line post-AHD2000? I attribute that abomination entirely to the "Us too! Let's be Beats!!!" syndrome.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:23PM (#47114015) Homepage

    I think it's safe to assume Apple wanted the Beats brand and styling, since the technology is nothing special. Beats headphones sound shit compared to much cheaper competitors, so apparently the logo is worth billions.

    We seem to be in another bubble, where brand popularity is valued way too high.

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:34PM (#47114137)

      so apparently the logo is worth billions

      Well, isn't that the case with just about everything? Branding & perception. Ask your average purchaser what they think of Beats headphones and most of them will tell you they sound amazing and are totally worth the price. It's like Coke vs. Safeway Select cola. They taste exactly the same (not all brands taste the same, but in that particular case they do), but the store brand is 1/4 the price. Yet plenty of people still buy Coke when the store brand version is sitting in the same aisle. Now think of brand names in just about anything. What makes Beats any different? Do you seriously think quality matters more than branding perception to most consumers?

      And you're ignoring this part:

      An important part of the acquisition for Apple is absorbing the Beats subscription streaming service

      Not just the service, but more likely the licensing agreements.

      • Seriously has Apple ever done anything that puts branding and perception over Reality? Distortion of this kind is pretty much a Field that they invented.

        (or they were getting flack over not having any minority execs, and with this deal Dr. Dre is now a VP @ Apple right?)

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        It's like Coke vs. Safeway Select cola. They taste exactly the same (not all brands taste the same, but in that particular case they do)...

        If you think the favor of Coke isn't unique and clearly distinguishable versus knockoffs, you don't have a particularly good palate.

        I don't profess to have a great palate, but being a Coke drinker, I can even pick out Dasani from among other bottled waters because of the salts they put back in. [Most of the big water bottlers RO their water, and then put back in a distinct set of minerals. You can easily develop a taste for Dasani over Aquafina or the other way around...]

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by greg1104 (461138)

          Serious Coke drinkers can even tell what type of container the soda was stored in. Larger containers are carbonated more heavily so they can survive being opened more times, and that makes them taste differently.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            unless they are blinded, and then that ability magically goes away.

            • unless they are blinded, and then that ability magically goes away.

              Properly conducted double blind ABX tests are incredible insights into how perceptions influence our experiences. People who are just absolutely no questions about it convinced they have no problem whatsoever tasting or hearing a difference shockingly often lose that ability when they really don't know what they are tasting/listening to.

          • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:33PM (#47114869)

            Sure. There's no questioning that, say, fountain Coke varies from location to location - McDonald's uses RO water, generally the same equipment, and a Coke there tastes different (and to me, better) than a fountain Coke at Burger King -- which purifies its water, but not RO. Also, apparently, a larger quantity of the water is kept chilled in their RO system (keeping it colder, allowing for better CO2 absorption).

            [A quick "McDonalds reverse osmosis" search shows a few articles that all say the same thing.]

            You can generally get a good Coke at your local Water and Ice store for similar reasons.

            Anyone living near Mexico can also tell the difference between a glass bottled Mexican Coke and the US version because of the sugar used.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
            It used to be a treat at "real' Mexican restaurants here in the Southwest, but now they're available at Costco.
            [I personally avoid most sugared drinks, but indulge in the occasional "MexiCoke."]

            Regardless, Safeway Select Cola is in no way "exactly the same" as Coke :)

            • by jhol13 (1087781)

              I have, and never will, understand the Coke-phenomenon.
              To me all colas are "too strong", they kill the taste food - so they cannot be drank with food. But still people do. For thirst - no, again, too much sugar or other sweeteners, it does not take the thirst away. But still people do.

              By far the best drink is tap water, for thirst and with most foods (unless you fancy a nice beer or wine, but that is different story entirely).

              Apparently there are even cola-connoisseur like you (not that there's anything wro

              • by 16Chapel (998683)
                > By far the best drink is tap water,

                Uh, not in London - it has a noticeable chemical taste, compared to tap water in e.g. Yorkshire. And let's not even think about the tap water in Iceland, which smells of eggs.
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                I have, and never will, understand the Coke-phenomenon.
                To me all colas are "too strong", they kill the taste food

                Try coca-cola with sushi. Mind, blown. Each brings out the flavor of the other.

                Don't get me wrong, I occasionally do drink a soft drink, but that is mostly to get some sugar into blood stream.

                Yay, sugar crash with a caffeine crash.

          • by Microsift (223381)

            different

        • Heh. I once drank some pure RO water that I bought for my salt water aquarium just to see what it would be like. The water had no flavor at all. If anything, you just sort of noticed that your tongue was wet. Also note that drinking too much pure water is dangerous as it will leach minerals right out of your body.
      • It has to do with Apple owning the culture of "cool" in the USA.

        Just ask yourself, would a teenager rather have a closet full of trendy clothes or an gold iPhone 5?

        Yes, the gold iPhone 5 wins everytime....

        Apple gets Dr. Dre out of this deal, thus Dr. Dre will now be an Apple employee/aquihire.

        Apple needs to transition from selling tracks on iTunes to getting people to pay for streaming without destroying the music business. Dr. Dre is the man for the job.

        Apple has watched the decline of facebook as the you

        • I think it has more to do with Beats Music and Iovine being a god among Hollywood insiders.

          Beats headphones probably means the pack in earbuds change at some level.

    • by nblender (741424) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:41PM (#47114209)

      I hadn't heard of Beats until last week. I was in a Future Shop (like Best Buy) with my son and he was all gaga over some of these Beats headphones on display... So I put them on and listened. It was like I was listening to music through a tin can while someone tapped on the can with a pencil... I'm far from a 'golden ear' audiophile wanker... I have a pair of mid-low end Sennheisers on my head 8 hours a day at work...

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        They also brand android software drivers for cell phone and tablet speakerphones.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by umdesch4 (3036737)
        I'm surprised you're being modded flamebait. My first listen to the $299 version of Beats, I was certain they were actually broken. But no, I tried them at 3 different stores, and I can't for the life of my understand how they just don't sound downright bad to other people. They sound broken to me. The bass is cranked, but only in a very narrow range that makes certain notes in a bassline sound louder than others, and there's some weird kind of thing going on in the midrange that almost sounds like phase ca
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878)

      I don't know about that. Beats has something like 2/3rds of the headphone industry selling $50 headphones for $200. Beats probably does about $1b in 2014 in sales. I'm hard pressed to see how that brand isn't easily worth $2b and for a control investor a like Apple who could leverage beats to also sell phones... I don't see the bubble.

      I'll agree the technology is worth $0.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mjwx (966435)

      I think it's safe to assume Apple wanted the Beats brand and styling, since the technology is nothing special. Beats headphones sound shit compared to much cheaper competitors, so apparently the logo is worth billions.

      You see Beats sells headphones with cheap hardware worth about $50 for around $300.
      Apple sells phones with cheap hardware worth about $100 for $600.

      Both utilise brand over performance, style over substance and both like to give their customers a good rodgering at every opportunity. It's a marriage made in corporate heaven.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Beats headphones sound shit compared to much cheaper competitors, so apparently the logo is worth billions.

      Then again, they can't possibly sound worse than say, the standard Apple earbuds that Apple provides.

      Granted, the Apple ones are "free", but you can also buy them separately, and are universally considered to be shit.

      As for Beats, well, I know a few people who like them. Apparently they sound like shit except for specific music types. Overcompressed popular beat heavy music apparently sounds decent. Of

    • The rumor seems to be (and this makes sense to me) that Beats was purchased for their licensing deals and personnel more than for their headphones.
      • The rumor seems to be (and this makes sense to me) that Beats was purchased for their licensing deals and personnel more than for their headphones.

        Apple pretty much says this in the press release - which is the first link in the summary.

  • Beats? BEATS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mark_reh (2015546) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:31PM (#47114107) Journal

    Why don't they just buy iHome while they're at it? Then they'll control 90% of the iCrap market.

    • by bengoerz (581218)
      The markup in Beats puts iHome to shame.

      Beats takes analog audio hardware that hasn't changed since the 70s, sprinkles fairy design dust on it, and sells it for big money. What better model for Apple's transistor & software business?
      • Beats takes analog audio hardware that hasn't changed since the 70s

        If a pair of headphones incorporates neodymium magnets, it was designed after the 1970s. As for analog? Most passive headphones are analog.

      • by zieroh (307208)

        Beats takes analog audio hardware that hasn't changed since the 70s, sprinkles fairy design dust on it, and sells it for big money. What better model for Apple's transistor & software business?

        I was going to object to your outright dismissal of design and how important it is to good (or sometimes just popular) products. But then I remembered that this is slashdot.

        Hint: The failure of Linux to make inroads on the desktop is due to the exact same reason: the elevation of engineering above everything else.

        (And yes, I too am an engineer).

  • I wonder how many iTunes Radio has.

    After all, according to Apple fans, "iTunes has 800 million credit cards!" You'd think they'd manage more than 0.01% of their users...

    I gotta admit--I don't get this one. Streaming service? Apple has iTunes Radio. Headphones? Okay, but they're not folding it into Apple. As someone mentioned, Jimmy Iovine [wikipedia.org]? I would think they could get him cheaper than 3 billion.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      Beats owns the "high-end fashion accessory" segment of a technology-oriented market - seems like a perfect fit with Apple.

      They're making money hand-over-fist (I assume?) selling shitty headphones at silly prices, why should it mean anything more than that to Apple?
      • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:34PM (#47114875) Journal

        Actually, a co-worker brought up a good point.

        Apple had to go begging and pleading to the music labels to get permission to stream music and they probably got reamed. Supposedly, Beats Music has a kick-ass licensing deal with the labels--better than Spotify and Pandora. So now that's Apple's deal.

    • This is likely for the streaming agreements, so they can bolster their offerings on iTunes Radio. I doubt it has much to do with the headphones (hence why they're leaving that part of the business alone).

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:34PM (#47114133) Homepage Journal

    what exactly does Beats have that Apple can't come up with by itself in an afternoon? Hell they could get Eminem or some other rapper to endorse it for a lot less money.

    I used to be an Apple faithful but I think their days of innovation are past. Even Samsung is still trying to make its own shit like the VR goggles rather than just buy whatever seems popular.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @07:26PM (#47114791)

      Hype.

      Apple used to be good at making it.
      Then Jobs died.
      Now they have to buy it.

    • by zr (19885)

      1. beats is a decent popular brand
      2. 100k streaming subscribers in one go
      3. two highly capable execs to handle day to day dealings with music industry
      4. eddie the stuff cue gets to go back to figuring out the cloud
      5. beats makes healthy profit, nothing to sneeze at

      looks like a very well calculated tactical move

      • Beats were a cool brand 5 years ago when they were new and had novelty value. Like most things in the fashion world they have already transitioned from edgy and unique, to every wannabe dork has them, and are hence now on the path to irrelevance. There is nowhere Beats can go from here other than down. Seems like a pretty poor move from Apple. But then they seem to be headed down that road too.
    • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:11PM (#47115999) Homepage Journal

      Wow. A 15-year climb from bankruptcy to the most valuable company in the world and people still look at every single move Apple makes and say "wow, that's fucking dumb." Isn't it just remotely possible that Tim Cook knows what the fuck he's doing, and that there's a good reason for buying Beats? How 'bout we give it a few weeks, huh? Maybe, just maybe, the guy running Apple knows something you don't, and perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt just this once and see how this plays out before passing judgement?

      Sorry, I must be new here.

      Besides: every move Apple makes doesn't have to be some earth-shaking road to an innovation unseen since the last amazing thing they did (which everyone shit all over at the time anyway.) If Apple buys Beats or Pepsi or Whirlpool or Nabisco or whoever for $3 billion and they make more than $3 billion off of that in the near future, then it was a good investment, right? Do you know what would make Beats worth $3 billion today? IF IT EARNS $5 BILLION IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. And oh, look, that's probably what will happen. [fastcompany.com] (And note that Tim Cook probably has better financial info available than a year-old Fast Company article.) Maybe Tim looked at Dre's books and decided that with Apple's awesome buying power and manufacturing prowess that they could DOUBLE the profit of Beats OVERNIGHT. They might earn that money back by next Christmas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The climb up was under Jobs' leadership. Cook's turn at the helm seems to be the slide back down again. It's slow, but it's happening. The magic is gone, and the products are no longer technically superior to the competition.

        It's already been long enough to see that. They ditched Jobs' "one true tablet size" pretty quickly. The iPhone 5/5s were both extremely "meh" and a year or two behind the competition. iOS 7 seems to have borrowed heavily from the flat look of Android and Windows, but still lacks basic

  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:39PM (#47114195)
    Now he can finish his Doctorate and stop living a lie!
    • Let's all go over Dr. Dre's crib and have a wild party!
      Why not, the fucker's a billionaire
      Everybody is bothered because their lame idea didn't win the internet lottery.
      Oh yeah, and Dre can go get his doctorate, NOT!
    • I was just at Costco and saw some "Beats by Dre" headphones for $200. It seems he has dropped the Dr. part of his name.
  • by kinarduk (734762) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:42PM (#47114215)
    I know apple have tried hard to get the labels to sign up to a music streaming service. Perhaps they bought beats because it already had a contract in place with the major labels, thus removing all of the complicated negotiations?
    • Remember, Apple bought Soundjam and released iTunes something like 6 months later.

      Buying something that already exists is much faster than rolling your own, even if you COULD roll your own. It's probably worth Apple's time not just for licencing reasons but for software reasons as well.

      I'm predicting that iTunes will be phased out over the next couple of years in favour of the Beats software. Everyone agrees at this point that iTunes has sort of run its course, and this will give Apple something to transiti

  • Only in America (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @06:55PM (#47114379) Homepage

    The DJ responsible for "Fuck Tha Police" just made a billion dollars. I love it.

    • The DJ responsible for "Fuck Tha Police" just made a billion dollars. I love it.

      Now he can write a song called "Fuck Tha [Apple] Shareholders"...

      • Pedantic rap fan-

        That song was actually written by Ice Cube when he was 15. Dr. Dre produced it, and played the role of the judge. He doesn't rap (he didn't really rap at all until Ice Cube quit the group) but he gets to say the great line "The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickenshit motherfucker".

        A couple weeks ago Snoop Dogg quoted that line in reference to Donald Sterling.

  • This still seems baffling. But WWDC is next week, so maybe that will shed some light on the real story.
  • Omg, two of the most overpriced brand fused together? Can't wait to see their new Beats+Apple headset for +1k$, everyone will love it.
  • "The Beats brand will remain intact," says the headline. But will the Apple brand remain intact? This is one of the most confidence-shaking moves we've seen since Jobs died. Isn't quality central to Apple's value proposition? Doesn't Beats have a poor quality reputation? Doesn't everybody know that Dre prefers Koss Portapros?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Isn't quality central to Apple's value proposition?

      No, and it hasn't been since the birth of the Performa line.

      • Performa!!!??? You really don't think they've recovered their brand since Performa ended? That was 14 years ago when Performa ENDED. I'm talking about Apple devaluing the brand they have right now.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Isn't quality central to Apple's value proposition?

          No, and it hasn't been since the birth of the Performa line.

          Performa!!!??? You really don't think they've recovered their brand since Performa ended?

          Is your problem with reading comprehension, or with basic logic? That is nothing like what I said.

          • Isn't quality central to Apple's value proposition?

            No, and it hasn't been since the birth of the Performa line.

            Performa!!!??? You really don't think they've recovered their brand since Performa ended?

            Is your problem with reading comprehension, or with basic logic? That is nothing like what I said.

            Does phrasing an insult as a question while demonstrating your own problems with reading comprehension and logic amuse you, or me?

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Does phrasing an insult as a question while demonstrating your own problems with reading comprehension and logic amuse you, or me?

              I wouldn't know, because only the first part of that has happened. Why don't you let me know, using the rudimentary grunts you favor if necessary, which word you didn't understand.

  • At first I thought, good plan, because Apple doesn't seem to be able to make decent sound devices on their own. The trendy white earbuds may be, you know, trendy, but they sound like carp. But then I read that the Beats headphones (which I had never heard of) are carp also.

    Has anyone done a hearing test on the Apple board of directors recently? Just askin'.

  • Beats just ate MOG, which I actually liked a lot. The Beats interface sucked so bad that I didn't bother subscribing after the trial.
  • ... this was the outfit that makes those sleeveless t-shirts I always wear.

    Never mind.

  • by anyaristow (1448609) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:29PM (#47116107)

    ...sign up.

    I tried to sign up for the streaming service today. I pressed the prominent "free trial" button, read the terms of service and privacy policy, and filled out the web form, only to be told "username not reserved." WTF does that mean? Temporary trouble? Hit the sign up button again...username not reserved. Picked a different user name. "Email not reserved."

    So, I read some of their support forum, where other people are asking, "wtf is username not reserved", and found you had to sign up through their mobile app before you can sign up for the free trial on their website.

    I checked again and found no instructions to that effect.

    Maybe there are only 110K people who have figured out how to sign up.

    • Lots of people have stopped using the desktop in any significant way. I think apps are the default access route for most people nowadays. (Of course, I'm pulling this from my ass).
  • According to the wiki entry, they had a valuation of $1B in September 2013.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

    I guess Apple can afford to throw money around.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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