Microsoft yesterday announced its new Surface Earbuds, and they’ve just today come under fire by rapper Will.i.am for an alleged act of plagiarism. The artist took to Twitter this morning and accused Microsoft of stealing the designs of his Buttons headphones, even posting two images side by side to show how similar they are.
This hurts…An African American start up struggling to inspire innercity kids with tech, only to find a GIANT steals our individuality & differentiation… #GetYOURownSTYLE your so 2000&LATE #cultureTHEFT…@Microsoft remember when I showed you our #BUTTONS 4years ago? pic.twitter.com/wUVBy1ef4m
— will.i.am (@iamwill) October 3, 2019
On the one hand, the aesthetics behind the Surface Earbuds and Will.i.am’s Buttons do look similar. They’re both circular. On the other hand, it is a circle that looks like a circle. I’m not really sure there’s any unique claim to be made here about headphones which look like circles on the outside. The size of the circle may be different, but they’re not uncommon.
The really important bits are how it fits in the ear, the microphones and sound quality, something that is different between Will.i.am’s Buttons and the Surface Earbuds both. Cortana integration (love it or hate it), Office Support and Fast Pair support likewise are also features that would appeal more immediately to consumers than the outer design.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for a statement and will update this story when we have more information.
In other news, Microsoft Surface Earbuds ship from October 22nd for $249 alongside the Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7 and Surface Laptop 3.