Expensive Tech as Fashion

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Apple is attempting to market AirPods as fashionable. I get the idea that fashion is supposed to be intrinsically difficult to figure out, because I’m having a hard time comprehending how fashionable it is to look like white plastic solidified while oozing out of someone’s ears. It’s like the earwax of nightmares. Gross.

The audio industry has long been a scary place. To start with, there’s “ordinary” headphones that a person can easily find for something like $20 at places like Target, then there’s the stuff of elites which can set a person back something like $300, which supposedly offer a superior audio experience. When a person is considering dropping all that cash on a single piece of tech, they’d want to be sure they’re getting their money’s worth, so they start doing some research to find which pair of headphones are right for them.

Then they’d find out that there’s many, many different varieties of elite headphones that each cost tons of money, and they’d have to do more research than they thought. They might attempt web searches to narrow things down, and find some blogs making direct comparisons between headphones on the market. Can we trust their opinions? When we see their pages littered with Amazon affiliate links for these products, it becomes apparent that these are for-profit blogs, and their opinions may be largely informed by what brings in the greater ad revenue for them.

The audio industry is intimidating, but lately, it’s gotten worse. The Beats brand of headphones has previously been marketed using endorsements by Dr. Dre as Beats By Dre. Since then, the Beats line has dropped the Dre endorsement, and was purchased by Apple, a company that already had a reputation for producing questionably expensive luxury tech.

That’s not to say that they’re no longer into the idea of celebrity endorsements for Beats, as the Beats brand has been endorsed by a number of celebrities, with even a special edition commemorating an endorsement by Justin Bieber. What sets these headphones apart from other headphones in the Beats line? Their color. That’s pretty much it.

These headphones are pricey, so one would imagine that they are some high-quality headphones. Instead, they are panned by audiophiles everywhere. The high price of these headphones is driven by the force of the demand generated by celebrity endorsements. The audio industry has found yet another way to liberate people from piles and piles of cash: with the words of people that are rich and famous.

And now, people are wearing Beats headphones and even AirPods with the belief that doing so would make them more fashionable. With tech companies standing to profit, I wouldn’t expect them to discourage this, but I’ve been noticing an increasing trend in the audio industry of encouraging style over producing a quality product, which provides another obstacle to avoid having spent hundreds of dollars on an inferior product.

I admit that if I were to spend a lot of money on something, I’d have a desire for it to look appealing. But when someone places undue importance on fashion when purchasing headphones, they just look like a sucker that caved in to marketing.

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