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June 16, 2014

Beats' New Wireless Earbuds Target Active User


The term “active user” gets bandied around quite a bit in electronics circles, and generally has come to mean one who uses a product or a service on a regular basis. But in this case Beats Electronics is looking to go after a new kind of active user, the really active kind, with its new breed of wireless earbud geared toward runners and fitness enthusiasts.

The new Beats earbuds—said to be a version of the Powerbeats Wireless buds—would offer several distinct advantages over the earlier earphone models. The obvious one, of course, being that the new earbuds are wireless, as mentioned previously. But battery life would also play a key factor here, with the battery able to hold sufficient charge to run six days' worth of hour-long workout sessions, meaning that not only could the battery play for six hours, but it could hold that charge over the better part of a week without needing to recharge. The devices are also water-resistant—meaning that the devices could come in contact with water but not able to be immersed to any significant depth—and are able to connect to any Bluetooth device within a 30 foot radius of the headphones.

The Powerbeats Wireless buds, designed in part by LeBron James, are specifically geared toward the needs of athletes, even down to the design. The earbuds actually latch around the ear itself, and are connected to each other by use of a small cord, which lays on the back of the neck. Thus the earbuds stay as one continuous unit, less likely to fall out of an ear while moving and potentially get lost. Those interested will be able to pick up a set in a choice of red, black or white and at last report, the Powerbeats Wireless buds will be available for $200.

It might seem like a difficult proposition to offer $200 earbuds to those who work out quite a bit, particularly in a down economy, but Beats has quite a bit going for it, particularly in terms of its incredibly effective marketing strategies. While reports suggest that Beats often doesn't fare well in terms of sound quality and the like in product reviews, and doesn't often come with the kind of features that some devices have—some like to point out a breed of runner's headphone from Sony that actually holds its music on embedded chips, which means the Bluetooth connectivity isn't necessary at all—putting it at a bit of a disadvantage. But that marketing comes in to help quite a bit. It's a good chunk of why Apple had such an interest in Beats, after all, and was willing to shell out fully $3 billion in a deal that's expected to wrap up by September. But the expansion into the fitness market actually makes plenty of sense on its own, as a recent report from NPD back in march suggested that roughly two-thirds of headphone users are exercising while using headphones, so bringing in headphones for the fitness crowd makes sense.

I personally enjoy headphones myself while exercising or cutting the lawn; audiobooks and noise-canceling headphones allowed me to get through three Dickens novels last summer while cutting grass. Though this development may not put Beats on everyone's ears, it's a pretty safe bet—especially given the success Beats has already had with athletes—that the fitness community will be at least fairly enthusiastic about this new development.




Edited by Maurice Nagle


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