AirPods epidemic hits Webb


Emma Lin ('20)

Richard Alrachid ('22) and Brian Yeung ('22) talk while wearing AirPods.

“Wireless. Effortless. Magical.” Apple uses these words to describe AirPods, and based off of their exceptional sales, customers seem to agree. These portable wireless headphones were released to the public almost two years ago on December 13th, 2016. After just one year, 900,000 AirPods sold in just the United States.

This data is not very surprising. If you take a look around campus during lunch or X-block, you will see tons of students with AirPods. Nevertheless, these statistics still do not explain why the AirPods phenomenon hit Webb so hard.

Ashley Fu (‘20), an AirPods user, said, “When I was in the gym, everyone else was wearing AirPods, so I thought it was pretty cool because they didn’t have a cord. That makes them really convenient and the case allows you to bring them literally everywhere.”

For Webb students, the clean look of the AirPods seems to be one of the most compelling traits of the device, especially compared to other brands.

Jake Sharifi (‘21), another AirPods user, said, “One of the main reasons for why I bought AirPods was for the aesthetic and the fact that they were wireless.”

Interestingly, the clean look of the AirPods is not something that Apple specifically focuses on in advertising. Instead, they emphasize the outstanding battery power, the high-quality sound, and the easy setup. Jake said, “The AirPods’ sound quality isn’t that great, but I think it’s worth the price.”

Their $159 price tag is significantly cheaper than other brands. The Samsung Gear IconX retails for $179 and Beat’s Powerbeats3 Wireless costs $199.

Garrett Revelli (‘20), who uses Samsung Gear IconX, said, “I was going to buy AirPods, but I can download music onto the Samsung ones so I don’t need my phone. They also stay in when you run and it’s nice to not have a wire.”

The Samsung Gear IconX has 4 gigabytes of storage (approximately 1,000 songs) and offers various sound settings for different locations. Although this device offers far more features than the AirPods, their sales simply cannot compete. On Amazon, the Samsung Gear IconX has a 3 star rating, primarily for some confusion with the extensive settings.

At Webb, Apple devices seem to dominate over Android devices. In a survey with Webb students, 85.6% said that they have an iPhone. AirPods were made for Apple devices, so it makes sense for students to advocate for a device that is compatible with their iPhone.

Another reason for why AirPods and other wireless earphones are so attractive is because students can hide them in class, which allows students to truly wear them anywhere and anytime. Featured below is a video showing students using AirPods in different ways and settings.

Jake, who does not personally condone wearing AirPods in class, said, “A lot of my friends wear them in class and just cover them with a hat or hair.”

Ashley also offers a similar perspective. She said, “It’s really convenient if you want to listen to music, but I think that if one of my friends did it, I would get annoyed.”

Interestingly, the 2018-19 The Webb Schools Student Handbook contains a section about using earphones and phones in class and how it can contradict aspects of Webb’s mission statement and collaboration in the classroom.

The Handbook says, “Earphones or buds are not to be used or seen during the academic day other than in the residential areas of campus (dorms and dorm areas).”

Although this statement should be updated to modern standards and use of technology, it still highlights the importance of actively listening to other students and collaboration in the Webb environment.

Rebeca Castro (‘20), a member of the VWS honor cabinet, said, “I think it’s important to not wear AirPods if you’re in class and learning or in the middle of a certain activity, but I think there are sometimes—especially during your free block—where you should be allowed to have AirPods and listen to music as long as you’re not bothering anyone else. I think this rule should only apply to when you’re active in class.”

Students seem to agree with Rebeca’s opinion. Overall, they believe that students should simply use common sense to understand when it is appropriate to use headphones and when it is not.

Jojo Jiang (‘22) said, “I think that if the teacher is talking you should not use your headphones but I think that if you’re doing individual work it’s fine. You have to show a certain respect to teachers.”

Richard Alrachid (‘22) said, “I think there’s a limit to using AirPods and devices to listen to music. I don’t think that the use of it should be banned. It’s more about the quantity of usage. Checking your phone from time to time is encouraged, so I think it depends on the amount of usage.”

Although new rules regarding AirPods and other wireless earphone devices have not been established yet, the prevalence of these devices throughout Webb continues to grow. All in all, understanding the reason for why everyone has AirPods seems to be simple: it has a beautiful design, it is easy to use, it is super compatible with any Apple device, and it hides perfectly out of sight.