Devialet is Bose’s biggest threat

Dec 9, 2015
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When Devialet announced they had raised €25 Million this past Summer from some of France’s biggest names – Xavier Niel, Marc Simoncini, etc. – it was clear that founder Quentin Sannié and team had big ambitions for what remained a relatively unrecognized brand, even from inside France. At the beginning of this year, however, Devialet made lots of noise (get it?) at CES when they announced the launch of Phantom, a new $2,000+ speaker that brought all of the technical R&D from their $15K-$25K audio equipment, and made it available to those who were willing to pay for uncompromising sound quality.

The biggest part of their strategy revealed itself when key leaders in the Silicon Valley began posting videos of themselves showing off the Phantom’s ‘implosive speakers,’ a uniquely designed feature of the dual-side speaker which sees Phantom produce sound not by expanding its speakers but by shrinking them (two opposite-facing speakers protrude from each side of the alien-like object). Now, Devialet has arrived on the Apple Store, in addition to rolling out their own chain of stores to match the Paris-based showroom that has become a keystone of Paris’ startup cluster.

With Apple as a distribution mechanism, Devialet will now be exposed to millions of clients already willing to pay 1,000 € for a telephone that they will replace, on average, 15 months later. Next to that, paying $2,000 for a speaker that could replace their entire sound system seems doable – especially given the sound quality of other Apple Store speakers.

Devialet started with high-end luxury, $25,000 audio equipment to replace your analog hi-fi system. Now, they’ve taken that same technology and packed it into a $2,000 product. This is the same strategy that saw Bose define its role as the high-end audio provider, both for home sound systems and, subsequently, personal headphones as well. Of course, they were aided by their chain of showrooms that served more to get you excited about the product than to actually push you to buy.

Devialet isn’t the only made-in-France product to get the Apple Store bump: Parrot’s Zik 3.0 headphones are its 3rd edition of headphones to make it into the Apple Store, and products by Withings & other hardware companies can also be found among their accessories. In addition, Harman, Marshall, & Bose all have audio products available in Apple Stores – not to mention Apple’s own Beats brand.

Still, Bose has slipped in quality over the years, finding its comfort zone in the $150-$450 headphones market, abandoning their once prestigious brand to join the ranks of the mass-distributed headphone products. Now face-to-face with cheaper brands like Audio-Technica, Bose has little time to worry about where it’s historic high-end audience is going, and, if the Facebook posts are any indication, they are going to buy a Devialet Phantom (or 3).