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BOSE Corporation The Sound of Money

1443 words 5 page(s)

That is the claim that, when delivered, allowed a small Massachusetts company to produce a big splash in the audio equipment industry. Founded in 1964 by Bengali American Amar Bose, the Bose Corporation grew to become a leader in the music and audio world.

As a professor at the prestigious MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Amar Bose was a respected teacher and academic. He was also a critic of the sound equipment on the market at the time he was young because, in addition to being a professor, he was also an electrical and sound engineer. He hated the acoustic reproduction of sound that the speakers produced by some of the high end manufacturers of his day delivered. In 1964 after teaching at MIT for over 9 years he had the vision to be able to build a better speaker that could actually reproduce sound the way the natural ear wanted to hear it like the person was sitting in a concert hall. He had worked on the basics of his design for several years and when he felt it was ready for introduction to the world he acquired some “angel” investors and a few of his associates at MIT and they formed the Bose Corporation.

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Now Dr. Bose’s was not just an ordinary entrepreneur with an idea and some time, he was an educated and seasoned electrical engineer. Having already completed his doctorate at MIT in Electrical Engineering, his thesis papers were on the Principals of Non-Linear Acoustic Wave Forms. He knew about this topic because he had worked in the research labs of Philips Electronics in the Netherlands for almost a year. He also spent another year in the mid 1950’s as a Fulbright Scholar doing research in New Deli, India. The key to his vision and design of speakers and sound equipment that could produce this “concert hall” sound was the study of what is known as “psychoacoustics”. Psychoacoustics is the study of how the human ear and mind perceives sound. For example we all know a ventriloquist cannot produce sound across a room when he is on the other side of it but by his manipulation of the acoustic principals in the room he can make it appear to the mind and the acoustic nerves that the sound emanated from 10 feet away. So by Dr. Bose understanding what went into the way we hear sound he was able to develop a methodology by which he could make sound acoustically appear larger than it really is and thus produce a concert hall sound inside a tiny house room. Dr. Bose received patents for his developments of an understanding of how we hear in relationship to non-linear wave compression and in loudspeaker design. These are the two fields that continue to be of significant importance to the Bose Corporation even today. (Clynes 2013)

From that lowly start in a small shop just outside of MIT, the Bose Corporation now employees over 10,000 people, operates 8 manufacturing plants around the world and has, as of 2014, over 153 retail outlets and sound rooms where you can hear the quality before you buy the product. Sticking initially close to his roots, the Bose Corporation only manufactured and produced speakers and home audio systems. As the advent of the iPod came to be they also began producing docking stations for these units so they to could produce a quality sound not possible in the ear buds or headsets that came with the product. As time moved forward they realized that people with all types of sound equipment at home could not just up and throw it away to buy the Bose System so they began to manufacture a line of headphones and headsets that could acoustically replicate the sound patterns produced by their line of wave technology speakers. These products completed the line of the Bose Corporation until the flat screen TV became an affordable item to everyone. Once this happened then people wanted to build home theater systems in their homes with all of the acoustic properties they would experience going to a movie theater.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Bose Corporation got into the home theater design and installation business and quickly became the leader among the rich and famous and also the blue collar working man. (Robbins 2007) Now the rich people want everything the same in all aspects of their life, so the automotive division of the Bose Corporation has been installing their speakers into high end luxury cars for the last few decades. In a strange twist of creative genius Dr. Bose also came up with a way to isolate, mask and dampen road noise on high end sports cars by altering the way the tires and suspension reacted to bumps and imperfections in the road. He invented an electromagnetic automotive shock absorber that revolutionized the performance car industry because this electromagnetic shock absorbs ion system would not only improve the quietness and comfort of the ride and suspension of the car but would also reduce the kinetic forces helping the car body resist motion and sway that could make handling of the car a bit more challenging. Even though there are no production cars using this suspension system it is rumored to be on many of the specialty vehicles with price tags over $600,000.

Dr. Bose realized that he was a creative lightening rod and not a business man which is why he never took the company public. If the company was public and run by a bunch of “MBA Suits” they would have fired him three times over. (Lemley 2004) He stated before he died in July of 2013 at the age of 83 that he never went into business to make money but that he went into business so he could do things that were interesting and that had never been done before. During his life his company produced noise cancelling aviation headsets that even went to space on the Challenger Space shuttle. In 2010 after applying research to the vibration source of driver fatigue in OTR truck drivers, Bose introduced the Bose Ride which is a vibration dampening system that reduces road induced seat vibration in the driver’s seat by over 90%. All of the Volvo, GMC White, Peterbuilt, Freightliner and Mack trucks offer this seat technology as an option for their commercial OTR vehicles. (Williams 2010)

The Bose Corporation is still a privately held corporation and Dr. Bose, in 2011, donated a majority of the company’s non-voting stock shares to his alma mater MIT on the condition that they are never to be sold they could just use the dividends generated from the shares. Currently operating in over 49 countries worldwide this privately held corporation is a force to be reckoned with in the consumer electronics sound industry be it home, business or automobile. Still following Dr. Bose vision to make new technology that would actually benefit people instead of just money, this corporation has made a ton of money since 1964. As a private company they do not have to disclose their earnings or revenue and they don’t. But it is safe to say that if in 2007 Dr. Amar Bose was considered by Forbes Magazine to be the 271st richest man out of 400 possible, the company itself was doing just fine. A non official report indicated that in 2013 the Bose Corporation generated over $2.5 billion in revenue.

There is now an MBA heading the company in the person of Bob Maresca the President and the company is still growing under the same philosophy as Dr. Bose instituted over 50 years ago. Dr. Bose had remained the CEO until 2011 when he stepped down and donated his stock shares to MIT.

In spite of some claims by former clients, employees and purported “audiophiles” that the Bose Acoustic Wave Technology is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors to hide inferior quality Bose has never published any technical data or test results for any sound claims. Dr. Bose believed that the proof was in the ears of the listener and by the numbers of revenue and earnings of the company year after year it is obvious the listener is more than satisfied. (Seth 2007)

While the market is not crowded with competitors at the upper level of the Bose product line there are still a few companies like Klipsch, Harmon, Axon, Acuhorn, Jenson, Naxa and Blaupunkt that have a small share of the market but by far the Bose name is synonymous with sound quality and perception of top value above all others. So sit back, relax and imagine that you are now listening to – “The sound quality of a 75 piece orchestra from a device the size of a shoe box”.