High-end audio firm Bowers & Wilkins is redoubling its focus on the special markets/incentive channel since coming out with a new line of Bluetooth speakers to complement its headphones.
While the British company is best known to serious audiophiles -- its traditional speakers top out at $70,000 a pair and are used in top recording studios such as Abbey Road (where The Beatles recorded) and Skywalker Sound, founded by filmmaker George Lucas, while its car speakers are the optional upgrade for Maserati -- the new headphones and Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker are more attainable.
"We've really seen the [incentive] business grow in the last three years," says Adrienne Gagliardi, the firm's business development & marketing manager. "Bowers & Wilkins products are always best in class. We are well-known to audiophiles, but we are challenged as our brand is not a familiar name in the [incentive] industry."
The company's $399.99 Zeppelin Air was its first iPhone/iPod dock speaker, using Apple's propriety AirPlay wireless technology. It was one of the first products Bowers & Wilkins produced that fit the incentive market. But the firm has only recently begun producing the BlueTooth wireless enabled products that are so popular.
That is primarily because for years Bowers & Wilkins engineers refused to use Bluetooth, saying it was not up to the task of reproducing music to the company's standards, Gagliardi says. But the latest Bluetooth iterations have measured up, and the company announced its first Bluetooth product, the T7 portable speaker, in October. With crystal clear, powerful sound and 18 hours of battery life, the T7 packs a lot into a small space -- roughly the size of a hardcover book. It retails for $349.99.
The headphones top out with the $399.99 P7 over-ear model, with Bowers & Wilkins' most advanced drive unit and high-end materials, as well as features like folding for portability and sheepskin leather ear pads that are removable for cleaning. The $299.99 P5 Series 2 features spectacular sound and many of the same features and materials, and adds an iPhone compatible in-line microphone. The lighter, on-ear P3 headphones have great sound, an iPhone-compatible mic, removable memory-form ear pads, and fold down for portability. They are available in white, red, blue, and black, for $199.99. The in-ear C5 Series 2 headphones combine powerful yet controlled sound with a snug fit for better comfort and sound quality, and retail for $179.99.
While Bowers & Wilkins does not customize its products themselves, it can work with hard headphone cases or custom product sleeves for speakers.
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