The word ‘sellout’ is thrown around a lot lately. It seems just about every time a writer, YouTuber, blogger or artist tries to make some cash from their creations they’re accused of going corporate, selling their soul to the devil, and becoming too ‘mainstream’ for the hipsters. I hate these labels not because they bear down on the sorry soul who tried to validate their work with currency, but because they’re normally applied by those who’d kill to have skill so they too could ‘sell out’.
You can imagine the Tom & Jerry style fiasco that kicked off inside me when I applied the same label to my favourite phone manufacturer, HTC.
What’s This About?
A couple of weeks ago HTC announced that they were going to be using sound technology from Dr. Dre in upcoming devices. ‘Beats Technology’ is the name given to the range of headphones and built-in sound systems developed on the back of the famous rapper turned producer.
Before this announcement HTC were ‘Quietly Brilliant’ as they put it. So that pretty much put them in the same league as Tibetan monks; quietly the worked amid the snow-peaked mountains creating smartphones to please the Android masses. But now they’ve decided to ditch their understated finesse by slapping a big red ‘B’ on their phones and getting all up in our grills, peddling whatever cheap marketing gimmick they can think of on a street corner. For shame.
Apparently Dre decided to create Beats a few years back while chilling at his beach-side home. Fed up with sound quality that was too ‘digital’, Dre tested hundreds of prototype headphones to 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ and eventually the range was launched. Your average pair of Beats retails for around $200. For the love not the money, right Dre?
The press release itself seems to have trouble detailing exactly what the benefit to HTC users are other than using buzz words like ‘innovation’, ‘technologies’ and ‘experience’.
Okay, okay; Maybe I’m being harsh. Surely there’s something on offer for us in all this. Well there is. You’ll get Beats Technology along with the big red ‘B’ on your phone. Tasteful. Virtual Surround sound seems like a nice feature. Dre said he wanted to create near-‘studio’ quality music and it sounds like they’ll do just the trick. Splendid!
The CEO of HTC Peter Chou said that audio is a ‘critical’ part of the smartphone user’s experience. Really? I mean basically every mobile phone since 2004 has had pretty decent audio capabilities and very rarely have there been cries for improvements in the last few years. If anything, improving the audio player apps should be a priority.
What’s worse is that this is all being passed off to Android users as a big favour from HTC. But come on, your average Android users isn’t concerned with virtual surround sound or pretending he or she is in a recording studio whilst riding the bus. How about a phone that doesn’t enter slow-mo mode after its one year birthday? Or even better, a replacement for the bloated carcass that is HTC Sense.
Oh. My. God. I’ve become one of them, haven’t I? A hater.
And, if the prophesy ‘Haterz gonna hate’ fulfills itself then I’m doomed. I’m gonna hate. What comes next? Angry YouTube comments? A loathing blog? A vitriol filled Twitter stream?
Probably not. And that’s because I’m not a hater. HTC remain my favourite Android phone maker. And Dr. Dre is probably a stand-up guy. Points deducted from both however. I’m all about businesses trying to make a buck from what they do. I’m a capitalist pig, in fact. But if your going to sell out at least sell something worthwhile, not cheap useless trash for the sake of short-term publicity. And for Peat’s sake, relinquish the ‘quietly brilliant’ malarkey.