Apple’s Beats Electronics purchase in the age of bluetooth

“One needs to look no further than what tops this year’s list of recommended Father’s Day gift ideas from consumer electronics chain Best Buy: Rockfish indoor/outdoor speakers and Beats by Dr. Dre wireless headphones. Both are curvy, shiny and Bluetooth-enabled,” Michael Antonoff reports for USA Today. “As the Beats tagline for its multiple models of Bluetooth headphones goes: ‘Feel the music. Not the wires.'”

“According to Ben Arnold, an industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm in Port Washington, N.Y., it’s becoming a Bluetooth world. U.S. retail sales of binaural (two-ear) Bluetooth headphones doubled to $280 million during the May 2013 to April 2014 period vs. the same months the previous year. The leading brands in order of sales were Beats, LG, Jaybird and Motorola,” Antonoff reports. “In the category of Bluetooth speakers, annual sales reached $896 million compared to $380 million the previous period. That’s a market growth of $500 million. The leading brands were Bose, JBL, Beats and Jawbone’s Jambox. According to Beats, its brand grabbed 57% of all U.S. premium wireless headphone sales in 2012 and 2013. Not bad for a company founded in 2008.”

“Perhaps the real reason Beats became the apple of Apple’s eye is that it gazed into its mobile screens and saw blue,” Antonoff reports. “So, what does it all mean culturally? The ascension of mobile devices that play music through earphones has made parks, beaches and subways less noisy. One measure of the shift from public to private listening can be seen when you enter the words ‘loudspeakers’ and ‘headphones’ into Ngram Viewer, a program that measures the frequency of phrases appearing in books scanned by Google. From 1970 to the late 1990s, mentions of loudspeakers maintained a constant rate. Headphones were a distant second, but the word entered an upward slope about 1980 as Sony introduced the Walkman. The categories’ line graphs crossed over in 1998, and since then “headphones” have remained well on top.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. There are some audio experts here that can provide more details than I. But I will point out that Bluetooth all on its own is STILL incapable of transmitting full spectrum quality audio. The bandwidth for Bluetooth, even at version 4, is still too small to transmit anything but what I consider severely compressed audio.

    HOWEVER, there is what I’ll call modified (probably not the best word) Bluetooth that the best device manufacturers use whereby the missing bandwidth is added to Bluetooth and you’re cooking. You just have to make sure that’s what you’re getting and NOT just Bluetooth.

    Experts, please help me out!
    (Or I may do some research later and post it here).

    1. Here we go! The perfect article on the subject:

      Does Bluetooth Audio Still Suck?

      Alan Henry points out:

      If you want the best possible audio quality from a Bluetooth device, look for headphones and speakers that support aptX, an audio codec designed for CD-quality audio transfer over Bluetooth. Alternatively, look for support for A2DP, or Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, which also requires compatible devices, but is designed for sending stereo audio over Bluetooth to speakers, car stereos, and headphones. In either case, even if you don’t have supported devices, you may be able to find adapters to help bridge the gap.

      You’re welcome! 😀

  2. One thing bothers me is that there are so many idiots wearing headphones while in harms way. Walking in traffic, driving cars, riding bikes, jogging, etc. several have been killed by trains lately in California. There are fools on public transit, including airplanes unable to hear warnings. Oblivious to the world around them. Tuning out while in public is just asking to be injured, mugged or killed. Maybe they can get some blinders to go with them. Or perhaps just stay home where they can avoid all human contact.

    1. I run with headphones all the time, though not bluetooth. Most of the things your mention have less to do with the headphones than just carelessness.

      For instance, even though I am wearing headphones, they’re earbuds, which means that I can hear things like car horns.

      Though what solves the problem is that I simply don’t run against the light (even sometimes if there’s no car in sight because they move fast; a car at one end of a block moving 30-40 mph reaches the other end fairly quickly).

      Though they’re also supposed to stop for pedestrians. I have had numerous situations when a car, trying to turn right on red at a crosswalk with lots of pedestrians, has to have someone (usually me) tell them to stop.

      And that’s not to say that there aren’t stupid runners, though there are some pretty insipid drivers too.

        1. One of the better, more persistent ones, ranging across the blogosphere and touching down here now and again. My sainted mother thought of such like as bad pennies. And here we are on Friday the thirteenth.

        2. That is different. Earbuds are not Beats headphones. You can hear a bit with earbuds, headphones are made to keep out other sounds. And screw you Silverprick. I had my first apple product before you graduated 6th grade.

          1. You’re right. The thing is (and as I said before, I can’t speak for anyone else) but if I can’t hear, I pay more attention to my surroundings–scanning up and down the street before stepping off the curb, understanding that cars take time to stop from whatever speed they happen to be going, watching out for pedestrians. One time a little kid ran in my path and I came this close to taking her out; a particularly unpleasant experience–because I suspect that no one wants to be hit by a car, even if they’re wearing Beats headphones.

  3. I wear earbuds when walking my dog. The best earbuds I’ve found including fit and sound are the Klipsch Image series. They are cheap. If you lose a pair you won’t feel like it’s the end of the world. The block out just the right amount of noise so you are still aware of your surroundings. ( I still pretend not to hear people trying to talk to me ). I only with they made them in some bright color so people would stop talking to me!!!!!!

    Actually I want a pair with a microphone so when my dog says something I can hear him, but not have to hear anyone else.

    I use the s4I and the s4i-II.

    The iOS interface works perfectly.

  4. I wear nice, inexpensive earbuds from Monoprice. They’re better at under $10 than most of what I found in the $50 range.

    Here’s the trick: when I need to cross the street, I pull them out so I can hear traffic and tell what’s going on. Simple, and keeps me safe. Once I get where I’m going, they’re happily back in 🙂

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