I hate JayBird Sport company! LOL!
Why? They have created something really wonderful and something really awful at the same time! How is it possible? Read on.
In the world of running and fitness, based on my personal experience, 7 out of 10 sport headphones are Apple generic earbuds. Then, 1 out of 10 (and now I see an uptrend here), PowerBeats 2 by Dre. Finally, 10% - are Jaybird Bluebuds X, which are now being replaced by the second iteration - JayBird X2.
Bluebuds X and X2 - are the best sounding earbuds on the market by none. Not even Beats by Dre can compare to these when it comes to fidelity, sound depth, lack of distortions, volume.
These are brilliant earbuds sound quality wise. Jaybird Bluebuds X were my first bluetooth earphones specifically for training. Most likely I was one of the first users to get them in white, because they broke after just a week. Replacement, in black, was much much better at the time.
I liked them so much, here is my post from a few years ago:
But now, I re-think those words. Why? The form factor, low water resistant level in Bluebuds X, stupid controls, eartips and ear wings that don’t work, complicated cord management system - there are too many issues here.
But the worst thing - Bluebuds X became the most popular earbuds sold on Amazon that are not Apple! Close to 5,000 reviews and counting! Amazing success - they definitely found the sweet spot of the mass market.
And others copy. Great sound that is paired with hideous form factor that make you look like a vintage robot and your ears, as if you have nuts and bolts in them! No-name OEMs, copy-cats, fake ones - the market is flooded with exactly the same design. This form factor dominates the market.
And we owe it all to JayBird Sport!
Those of you who follow my blog, know that I run and I aim at long distance and endurance running. I race a bit, and I always have a new gadget that I test along my training process.
So, I see people plugging Bluebuds X’s at the start line. However, at the finish, the picture is different. No one, literally, no one who used and finished anything longer than 5K had their earbuds in place.
I have seen one fellow, who wrapped the cord around his sweat band, in a desperate attempt to make JayBirds to stay in place for the entire race. Imagine what he had to go thru and how much time he lost, attempting to adjust his earphones or take the band off.
There is another major problem with JayBirds. You can’t cover your ears with anything! It puts too much pressure on your ears no matter what you use - sweat band or a ski balaclava. Chilly or snowy conditions - you are predestined to freeze your ears off.
These brilliant earbuds are horrible for runners - they never stay in place, they pop out easily after just a few miles and their ‘over-the-ear’ design is rubbish!
This is what I call - secure fit.
Jabra Sport Pace - I had bad luck with Jabra, but I want to give these a try.
This is not a secure fit
But there is bigger elephant in the room, and it is not earbuds. JayBird Reign.
Very clever and very attractive lifestyle fitness wearable. It was first announced at CES in 2014 - almost 2 years ago, and up until today you can’t easily buy it.
Why? It is difficult to create innovative sport tracker from scratch and bring it into full-scale production cycle. Even moving 10,000 units is no small feat, if you try to create impeccable and sleek design with a set of new functionality, like predictive vitals monitoring.
Then comes the question of mobile apps development, platform, data storage, compliance, private data, security - the fun part nobody wants to think about. And finally - how do you monetize these services? Would you buy a device that tells you to get up from the couch and run, when you don’t want to?
When you talk to almost any venture capitalist or angel investors, the second you mention hardware - it immediately raises red flag. Hardware is hard, R&D is expensive, and you can only monetize on device sales. At the end of the day it is a commodity. No unit sales - no revenue. Period.
And that is my problem with JayBird Sport.
They took wonderful audio technology they have created and put all the profits into a black hole of the Reign. And it’s not even on the market 2 years after announcement! And if it works, it would be so interesting to try it out.
Bluebuds X have been in production almost 2 years. I had two pairs, and both failed from exposure to sweat within 3-4 weeks. But for recreational activities, these should be fine.
Two years ago JayBird had a full lineup of earbuds. Now things have changed. Only a single model of earbuds and Reign activity tracker. For two years company hasn’t made much progress with their earbuds, milking that cash cow.
So, is the X2 any better? Short answer - try it for yourself.
Liquipel, actual sweat-proofing, was adopted, which is very good. Sound is still the best in wireless class. But it’s hard to justify $179 premium price tag.
New design and new colors have been introduced. Appearance over function?
New design for ear wings - let’s improve something that we know doesn’t work and will never work for active sport enthusiasts.
Over-the-ear design - no changes whatsoever. No memory wire or wire guard to securely guide wires around one’s ear and ensure it doesn’t pull the drivers out.
So, launch of JayBird X2 is definitely news worthy. Proven design, same flaws, same price, different packaging, water-proof protection.
My question is bigger. What is Jaybird Sport?
Is it a technology company? Is it a sport gadget company? What is it? Are they trying to be something else?
They could have built entire line of wonderful products for sport enthusiasts with their potential, but instead, Jaybird tries to become an elephant. FitBit or Jawbone to be exact.
Is it a little too late, unless they have something better up their sleeve? If not - the company may be in trouble.
And I really wish Jaybird succeess - not often you have brilliant startup that competes with Apple for market share.