I think that the massive marketing operation behind, and resulting mainstream popularization of Beats headphones does the audiophile community a great service, although on the surface it is a major annoyance. This is because they brought to the general population's mind the need for better quality sound than they can get with stock earbuds.
If you don't have short-term memory (or are really young), you would remember that wearing the stock Apple white earbuds used to be a fashion statement, akin to what wearing Beats are today. Back then, for most people the stock earbuds were "good enough". Now that Beats headphones are popular, people realize that they could benefit from doing research and look for better sound than the stock earbuds provide. Basically, they now know that significantly better sound is out there for them to have.
While some just buy Beats (or other "fashion" headphones) and leave it at that, this actually leads many people to start looking at other options like Head-Fi favorites Shure, Audio-Technica, Ultimate Ears, Etymotic, Westone, Klipsch, etc.
TL;DR Beats are good because they make average consumers think about buying better headphones than the stock apple buds, and then they may end up buying good headphones other than Beats, instead of nothing
Edited by alexm23 - 12/4/11 at 4:51pm