Day 82: A Response to the World’s Agreement on Headphones: I Disagree
If you haven’t checked out T-Roy’s rant [which should be the new name of his blog] about how we have all agreed on what pair of headphones to wear then you should. Then you read the rest of this because I disagree.
In quick summation, he thinks that the stylers-that-be have unconsciously agreed that the Airpods by Apple [or a knock-off brand like I have] is the type of listening device that we have settled on as a society, much like the medium-sized phones. He makes a good point/observation that many people are choosing Airpods over the former popular DJ headphones or, to name-brand, Beats. Beats by Dre became popular many years ago and were originally created by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine, a famous music producer. The quality of noise-canceling headphones helped continue the sales but the marketing of the product is what made Dr. Dre the first rapper billionaire. Dre and Lovine gave Beats to every [exagerating] rapper and artist they knew to wear them in their music videos. The commercials were colorful and appealing. Hell, I wanted a pair of Beats, but I certainly didn’t want to shell out the money for them. Nor will I hand Apple $200 dollars for technology that I can buy for $20. Now, Beats are not quite as large as professional quality “DJ” headphones, but they are in that category of size. They don’t necessarily travel as well as Airpods. Which one someone chooses will depend on their travel habits.
But back to the point, which is more popular now? I think that wireless earbuds have become extremely popular in the last few years, which undoubtedly cut into the Beats market, which actually doesn’t matter because Apple owns Beats now. [Which is a hilarious twist in this whole story from a consumer stand-point. Apple has captured both markets of high-quality, popular earphone products. ]
I am guessing that Troy believes that Airpods are more popular because he lives in New York City and he sees more people with wireless white earbuds walking around, talking to someone on the phone or ignoring the sounds around them. There are also more joggers. I live and work in an environment that has lots of teenagers. Yes, many teenagers like wireless earbuds because they can easily be hidden, but Beats are still a fashion statement. Troy states, “Anybody that doesn’t have those $200 earrings dangling from their lobes is simply a faceless poor.” This is meant as a joke, of course, but also an observation of society. I would argue that anyone without Beats also shares the same invisible status. Additionally, if someone bought headphones or earbuds as a status symbol, Beats stand out so much more. And I think that is still the appeal. Students wear them around their neck all day without listening to music. It might as well be an oversized, expensive necklace. They shout, “Look at me! I can afford the expensive headphones that Dr. Dre made. Oh, and they have amazing sound quality. Can you puny earbuds say that? No, because earbuds can’t talk and they get lost like loose change!”
In conclusion, I think Beats are just as popular as ever. There is a plateau to new technologies. Airpods or wireless earbuds are closing in on their peak. They are a novelty of our time, like Kindles. They are something we will buy because we think we need them in our life. Some will use them and some with lose them. That goes for both Beats and Airpods. There are pros and cons to both designs based on how a person travels. But what is most important to remember is that Apple owns both of them. They understood the popularity and selling power of both products, and depending on which one Apple wants to market more is the one that is going to win in the end.
Author's Note #1: I used to own a pair of Skull Candy headphones because they looked cool and were noise-canceling. But they broke in my backpack. My choice of headphones is the free earbuds that came with my iPhone. And I keep them in the free protective case they came in.