Belfast Telegraph

Will.i.am accuses Microsoft over new headphone design

The musician claims he met with the company in hopes of collaborating four years ago.

(Ian West/PA)
(Ian West/PA)

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

Will.i.am has accused Microsoft over the design of its new headphones, claiming the firm copied his own audio product.

The American musician criticised the PC maker on Twitter and Instagram, saying that he approached Microsoft in hopes of collaborating four years ago.

Will.i.am, real name William James Adams Jr, said seeing Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds unveiled to the world on Wednesday “hurts”, likening them to his Buttons product, released in 2016.

“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?,” he tweeted.

“When you meet with a big company in hopes to collaborate with your big dreams & ideas, on how tech Should speak to & from inner city to inspire inner city kids to take an interest in tech…and 4 years later that company copy’s the design and product you made is just sad…”

On Instagram, the Black Eyed Peas frontman shared an image of himself wearing his Buttons product, alongside a shot of Microsoft corporate vice president Robin Seiler showing the Surface Earbuds.

“Copycat” and “Shame on you @microsoft”, he wrote on the posts.

Microsoft revealed the Surface Earbuds at an event in New York on Wednesday, alongside a number of new Surface laptop and hybrid devices, as well as a return to smartphones.

Will.i.am, who is also a judge on the UK version of The Voice, founded his start-up i.am+ in 2013.

The 44-year-old is often seen wearing his own products at events, including the Buttons, which are Bluetooth like Microsoft’s offering, though the earpieces on Will.i’am’s headphones are connected via a cable.

PA

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