Bowers & Wilkins appears to stumble with its multiroom ambitions

  • 25 February 2020
  • 10 replies
  • 349 views

May, 2016:

A multi-room B&W system, then? In an interview with CEPro, Yu seemed to confirm as much. “What I want for my own living room has not been created,” he said. “There’s components, like some good interfaces and really good high-end audio/video. If I could buy it, I would, but it hasn’t been created.” Watch out Sonos and Bluesound.

https://www.whathifi.com/news/bowers-wilkins-sold-to-silicon-valley-start-undisclosed-sum

 

Today:

Gideon Yu, who headed-up the recent Eva Automation, has resigned from his role at B&W, along with the recently-appointed CEO.

Yu and his Silicon Valley start-up, Eva Automation, were widely seen as the final piece in the jigsaw for the completion and launch of B&W's Formation wireless range, with the company helping to push the high-end system over the line following the surprise acquisition. 

https://www.whathifi.com/news/bowers-and-wilkins-ceo-resigns-restructuring-expert-appointed


10 replies

Oops.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10153033/officers

I’m no expert in these situations, but this looks like Duggins was brought in less for restructuring, more to prepare for sale.

At least their app gets better reviews from end users than KEF’s, which is apparently really bad.  Hard to imagine how Eva Automation’s “proprietary mesh network” doesn’t infringe all kinds of Sonos patents.

 

I’m still convinced that Sonos should license their tech out to established speaker makers, most of whom are trying to get into the wireless speaker game, with minimal success.  They don’t understand the tech like Sonos does, and can’t implement without infringing on Sonos patents.  Until Sonos supports “hi rez”, though (I’m guessing they will after May), the speaker makers aren’t going to be interested, the “hi rez”  marketing juggernaut being what it is.

LinkPlay appears to be doing just fine supplying the infrastructure (via AWS), OEM boards, and starter app to multiple licensees.  https://linkplay.com/technology-overview

 

Good heavens. 6 out of 7 board members resigning? Or is that 6 resigning, 7 remaining. Either way, ouch. 

Good heavens. 6 out of 7 board members resigning? Or is that 6 resigning, 7 remaining. Either way, ouch. 

 

It looks like this is an extend history, as some of them resigned back in 2018.

Ah, was not reading it properly, thank Danny. 

Ah, was not reading it properly, thank Danny. 

 

Still, it’s worth noting that the only one left remaining is the guy brought in for restructuring and/or prepare for sale.

https://www.whathifi.com/news/bowers-and-wilkins-confirms-restructure-and-split-with-eva-automation

If you think that sounds like B&W focusing on its core business, you might just be right. The Eva Automation deal was always seen as being about getting a wireless hi-fi product to market and, following the launch of the B&W Formation range, it seems something about the partnership no longer adds up. It remains to be seen how that will play out over the coming months.

I think there’s an ongoing market for wired speakers, and it may be the right move for B&W to focus on that market. My guess is that the streaming market is already restricted, and additionally hampered, if that is the right word, by the patents that Sonos has garnered, by doing the work first. And kudos to Sonos for identifying a market first, figuring out how to make it work, and garnering the patents!

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Hello.

I’m at a loss to understand how all these companies can compete over what seems to me to be essentially the same intellectual property and there’s likely to be yet another entrant into the ‘multi-room’; http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7,483,538.PN.&OS=PN/7,483,538&RS=PN/7,483,538 (check the pictures).  This was first filed in 2004, very close to the start of Sonos and is now held by Apple Inc.  Wait and see...

Why B&W have struggled is as much a mystery to me as why Sonos sued Denon (unless they shared some IP).  Also why Sonos and Yamaha’s MusicCast can coexist as Patents seem to be massively broad in their coverage.  Just look at the battle between Apple and Samsung; even an oblong box with four similarly-shaped corners seems to be patentable!  The US patent system does not seem any longer to be fit for purpose as there are so many trolls and the system appears to be groaning under the sheer number of filings.

The same difficulties in IP might seemingly apply to BOSE and all of the other ‘multiroom’ entities out there that no doubt folk on these lists have been looking at since Sonos dropped their ‘legacy’ news (and perhaps earlier).  Sonos are now fighting both Google (https://www.ft.com/content/9b8469d0-3179-11ea-9703-eea0cae3f0de) and probably Amazon, though this could be later (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/07/sonos-sues-google-for-stealing-its-wireless-speaker-technology.html).  The fight with Google seems to have come about following ‘collaboration’.

What a nightmare!

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