For Christmas, I bought myself a Sansa Clip+ and my wife an Ipod Nano (was going to get her a Clip+, too, but she just loved the touch-screen/overall aesthetic of the Nano). I've listened to a few songs on her Nano, using the stock earbuds, and I was also pleasantly surprised by their sound. The stock earbuds that came with my Clip+ on the other hand? Blech! (I had to try them, though, out of sheer morbid curiousity) That said, I'm so used to IEMs that earbuds just don't work for me anymore -- I can't get them to feel comfortable.
Aside from snob factor (not to be disregarded), ibuds get no respect because the bass is anemic and the detail's not all that great. I borrowed my partner's pair for a comparison listen. They're not the worst, but the lack of isolation is really not my cup of tea.
Also they may get trashed because so many Head-fiers have suffered through commutes with some ibud wearer blasting away right next to them.
Just tested my friend's iBud and I have to say they're pretty decent(after good isolation with foam). The bass roll off nicely at around 35hz; they're not bad at all. I might need to buy a pair (or the SonyE10LP) for places that I can't use IEM due to isolation.
Also, it seems like a lot of Head-Fiers don't know how to insert/use earphones/earbuds lol. They don't sound tinny or anemic at all.
I remember that when I had them they compared favorably to Sansa stock earbuds, but next to anything decent in the price range, they are pretty bad (Apple charges $30 for a replacement! See link below). The build is also pretty terrible, I remember I pulled the wires out trying to use the chin slider (conveniently this happened the day after I ordered my first "real" earphones, MEElectronics M6). http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB770G/B?fnode=MTY1NDA0Ng&mco=MTM3NDkzOTc
They never fit anyone correctly. They're very uncomfortable and are constantly falling out of people's ears. Also, they don't isolate well as you said. That's why even people who aren't interested in better sound quality rush to replace them with anything else.
Meh, hating ibuds is kind of retro I think? There was a period about 10-5 years ago, when the ipod was first released, where those iconic white earbuds where a status symbol. And a liabilty! I remember reading articles in printed magazines (remember those?) talking about thieves on the subway targeting ibud users since the white cables were a dead giveaway that you had an ipod on your person.
Even if you could afford better headphones, you probably didn't want to buy them since you could show off your $600 dollar ipod purchase by wearing the ibuds. Remeber the original ipod marketing with the dancing silhouettes? It was all about the ibuds in those ads. Which was pretty funny when you think about it... probably not a good idea to be jumping around with a spinning HDD in there. All my HDD on my early gen ipods failed, but my first gen nano is still kicking... stupid cheap hitachi drives they put in there.
Anyway, my experience with a half dozen ibud deaths were wire breaks at the housing, the housing coming apart and revealing the copper coil, and shocks followed by driver failure --- all within a month of use.
Unrelated: why are there no volume control headsets for Android? It seems like something so simple to integrate, if the hardware manufactures could get together to agree on a standard. Besides the LOD that's the only thing that iOS has over Android in my book. But I still prefer android for it's turn-key spoken navigation and flash video playback to watch streaming videos.