Plantronics fired across the bow of its high-style nemesis, the Jawbone 2, with its Voyager Pro headset, which goes on sale today. Now Jawbone--never one to be outmaneuvered--is firing back with the Jawbone Prime, which is also being released today. The Prime ($129.99) has a slightly cleaner, less aggressive design than the Jawbone 2, and comes in Candyland colors rather than silky metallics--both features are designed to broaden the appeal to women, who've been slower to adopt Bluetooth headsets. Pre-sales are up today on the Web site, and the device hits stores on May 2.
The ear buds have been tweaked to make the ear loops--which were notoriously fiddly and delicate--optional. (The Prime only comes with one, as opposed to the four included with its predecessor.) The performance stats for the headset remain unchanged, with 4.5 hours of talk time, 8 days of standby, and a full charge in less than an hour. But the new version boasts "NoiseAssassin 2.0", and a feature that ensures the noise shielding and mic pick-up works even when it's not touching your jaw.
But the look's the thing with Jawbone. The casing, by design-world superstar Yves Behar, remains unequaled, and the marketing is unabashed about making a headset into a fashion statement. The press release chirps that the "Earcandy" hues "reflect the Spring 2009 fashion trends...resonating with women and younger users who care about products that fit into their lifestyle." And there's still the matter of the ingenious introduction of the noise canceling technology, which, when you think about it, wasn't ever a game-changing advantage per se. I mean, how many times are you trying to talk next to a running lawnmower while working? Still, it has allowed the brand to tell a design story while insisting that the good looks were backed by science--always a winning combination in the war for younger consumers.