Apple wanted to call the AirPods Pro ‘Extreme’ and I’m extremely glad they didn’t

Apple AirPods Pro 2 in open case
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Have you ever seen the meme of Steve Buscemi, a grown adult, donning teen skate wear and saying "how do you do, fellow kids?"? Because a new report suggests that Apple narrowly avoided a similarly cringe-worthy attempt to be down with the kids. Rather than call its best wireless earbuds the AirPods Pro, it turns out that at least some of the Apple execs wanted to brand them AirPods Extreme instead.

That was a very bad idea and Apple's employees – who I suspect were a lot younger than the person or people who thought "extreme" was a good word – quickly objected. According to MacRumors, there were so many objections that Apple quickly changed its mind about the name of the best AirPods

So what's so bad about calling your earbuds AirPods Extreme? Allow me, an old person who had to ask my kids what "rizz", "drip" and "Harry Styles" meant, to explain why if old people think it's cool, it isn't.

Extreme's a term from the 90s, and it needs to stay there

The word "extreme" was used everywhere in the 1990s and early aughts and it was completely meaningless. We had extreme Right Guard deodorant, extreme Pringles, extreme Nachos, extreme Mountain Dew, extreme Taco Bell... we even had Hostess Extreme Cream Twinkies, where the word extreme was spelt eXtreme to make it even more extreme. 

And there was the band Extreme, whose music was notable for not being extreme: their biggest hit, the anodyne ballad More Than Words, was so extreme that if you played the video to your mum she'd nod her head along to the music and tell you that they seemed like a nice bunch of boys (although to be fair their later song, He Man Woman Hater, was extreme in the sense that it was extremely rubbish). 

Here's video of Extreme not being very extreme.

Apple was not immune to this. When it brought out a new version of its AirPort wireless router and companion laptop card with slightly faster Wi-Fi, Apple called it the AirPort Extreme – but when you consider that the modem inside was dial-up and 56K, which meant downloading an Extreme album would take an extremely long time to download, you can see the problem here. 

Extreme is a bad choice for naming any tech product. When you've already said that your product is at the very extreme of performance, you can't exactly turn around next time and say that your new version is 'extremer'. There's nowhere left to go.

So I'm glad Apple didn't call the AirPods Pro the AirPods Extreme. But I'm not sure that the execs have entirely absorbed the lesson their younger employees were trying to teach them. After all, if they had then they probably wouldn't have named their first over-ears the AirPods Max.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.