I first noticed the advent of the Bluetooth wireless headpiece for cell phones approximately four years ago. A few business colleagues were starting to show off their new technological garb and then I’d also spot the occasional, high class athlete “toothin’” (as I’ve recently heard it referred to by my buddy, Tank.) My initial reaction to the devices tetered between disdain at the look and style of a blue flashing strobe light in one’s ear to curiousity about how and if a trend would emerge from this technology. As I often am with tech gadgets, I took a bit of a “wait and see” approach to these devices before making the plunge myself. Further, without a smartphone in place, I didn’t find it altogether necessary given that the size and compatibility of my last phone worked sufficiently without the earpiece.
Approximately one year ago I made the move in conjunction with the transition to a Windows Mobile Verizon smartphone device. And, thus, I started toothin’ with the best of them—I typically restrain myself from keeping the gadget in my ear while in a live conversation with someone in front of me but conduct the majority of my phone conversations with it and feel almost inadequate without the piece in my ear while driving or walking around on a phone conversation.
During my transition to a “toothed” state though, I’ve increasingly noticed that the rest of the world doesn’t appear to be heading in the same direction and I can’t help but wonder why. Blue tooth earpieces are lightweight, comfortable, more convenient than wired headsets, relatively small, safer (when it comes to driving especially) and, in my opinion, fairly cool. They are also pretty stylish from a design perspective especially many of the Jabra and Motorola models. Yet, still, I would surmise that no more than 1 in 25 people are ‘toothin'” these days on any regular basis.
Over time, I anticipate the devices will also be able to transmit more than just voice signal including music and audio from digital media on one’s phone. Will that be the inflection point in these device’s popularity? My guess is doubtful. So, is it an expense thing? Perhaps. On www.blueshop.com, a website wholly devoted to the resale of such devices, the lowest priced models run at approximately $40 with others going over $90 or $100. For a device that is still sometimes buggy and not yet fully adopted by the mainstream, the expense may be problematic here. Are they too “futuristic” looking? That’s also a possibility. While I personally find many of the designs to be slick, others may be finding them to be too “Minority Report”ish, one of the more underrated Speilberg/Cruise flics BTW.
But, still, even with contemplated price and stylistic components being the potential culprit, why is the frequency of blue tooths so rare? It’s not like we’re contemplating the “murse”, an abbreviated term for male’s carrying purse like contraptions also referred to as a “man bag.” The “murse,” while generally more popular in Europe, derives its origin from the “purse” a historically and exclusively female-only item. It also teters too close to comfort to the notorious “fanny pack,” an item which appears to have officially jumped-the-shark circa 1992.
I, simply, don’t get it. It’s clearly a bit uncouth to “tooth” in certain social settings where being so “wired or “on” would just be “off.” But, other than those obvious environments, it’s rare to see such a practical and stylish technology continue to struggle reaching the mainstream six or seven years after its introduction. Until I figure this one out, I will continue to be a proponent of “toothin'” in most situations and just hope this gadget doesn’t jump its own shark anytime soon.