Sunday, May 18, 2008

The uniform - no choice yet for bluetooh headsets

PC Magazine reports on the new generation of bluetooth headsets. There is a new Plantronics and a new Jawbone. This started me thinking about the uniform of modern business. In the mid fifties the British business uniform was a dark pinstripe and a bowler hat. Today the business uniform is defined by gadgets rather than clothes. We seem to have converged on a consensus as to what make and model MP3 player (iPod), headphones (Bose QC2/QC3), cellphone (iPhone) and most recently laptop (MacBook Air). We can tell that bluetooth is clearly an unfinished technology as there is still no consensus as to the best headset to get.

I have the Plantronics 510 and the original Jawbone. Both are seriously flawed. The Plantronics 510 is bulky, has poor sound quality and requires a separate chager. The one positive is that it is at least robust enough to be put in a pocket when not in use.

The Jawbone is the only headset I have used that does not result in the person on the other end saying 'are you on your headset'. But that comes at a price ($125) and it is a fragile creature. I have already had to repair mine with the aid of a soldering iron and copious quantities of superglue.

Some parts of uniform have clearly emerged amongst road warriors because they are clearly the best in their class. Or at least they were when they were adopted. If you are on a plane sitting and your headphones don't work quite as well as you would like you look to see what others are wearing and next time buy those. Quite a few people argue that Audio-Technica is making better noise canceling earphones than Bose these days. They are certainly more robust.

But other parts of the uniform are clearly not about functionality. Take the decision that 'business casual' means 'wear a single color Ralph Lauren Polo shirt with khaki trousers'. Or the choice of the Rolex Oyster perpetual in gold and steel with jubilee bracelet. It isn't that one brand is so much better than another, its the fact that one brand is more recognizable. And that is what its about.

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