Quantcast

NEWS: Bowers & Wilkins CEO leaves amid restructuring

Cameron583

Well-known Member
I think that their large investment in Formation has caused them troubles - I don’t personally see any of the products as competitors in the market.

They’d have been better off building in a 3rd party system and kept design more true to their core - as it stands, they’re a large departure from anything we’ve seen in recent years, except for the Formation Duo.

With a system like that, though, you need to inspire customers with the confidence that you’re committed to long term success and development, and to be frank, I don’t think they are. Not like Sonos, or BluOS.

From the limited I read online about their internal culture, it seems a little messy and all over the place.

I think a restructure is a good thing, and I hope they can bring someone on that understands the importance of heritage, but is also in touch with current market trends and the more lean & agile nature.
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
Glad to read a sensible post like above which we seldom see these days. :)

Companies like B&W, Sonos, Bose etc. Are still out of touch with current trends. It is going to bite them back on a long run.
 

jimwalsh

Active Member
I own a formation flex. Great bit of kit if you use it with roon.

I am planning to buy a pair of the Duos soon.

BluOS has had some teething problems with roon if the roon community forums are anything to go by.

For my use case the formation range are perfect. Hopefully they will continue with them.
 

Dunners

Active Member
I would also echo the comment that the long time frame developing Formation was an issue, but largely, a lack of market penetration would be an even bigger issue. Frankly, it will only ever be a niche product due to its relatively high price for a lifestyle product. B&O have been losing bucket loads of money in this high cost segment, so I guess B&W either saw it as being ripe for the taking OR felt that they simply couldn't afford not to be in the multi-room space.

It's tough going.

The traditional HiFi and home cinema market is declining and B&W are very much exposed.
At the bottom end of HiFi, many people are simply buying sound that is 'good enough'. Amazon / Google type products, maybe a sound bar, maybe from a traditional audio brand or most likely from a TV brand that has slapped a traditional audio brand name on the front (Panasonic / Technics, Samsung / HK, LG / Meridian etc). This will effect their Zepplin, 6 series speaker range... the bread and butter of B&W's range.
In the sound bar world, they've been out maneuvered in the mind of the customer as they don't offer the latest HDMI inputs, ATMOS / DTS:X etc. Whether a customer really needs that from a sound bar is up for debate, but so many people buy based on buzz words found on websites and not on in-store demos, so they are on the back foot in this market.

Headphones seems to be a nice area for them to be playing in. But again, it's not like the market isn't heating up with the likes of Apple and Sony really smashing it lately. Then there's Senheisser and Bose, let alone the boutique brands! True wireless earbuds? Yup... you NEED to be in that game these days.

Then there's the multi-room competition.
The biggest name in the game for the last 15 years (Sonos) doesn't seem to be able to turn a year-on-year profit. Apple, Google and Amazon can lose money for decades and eat away their competition... then there's the fact that B&W are one of the last players to try and break into the market. Sadly, their Formation offering doesn't offer anything revolutionary, I do like the promise of near-perfect sync, but is it enough? Well I don't see many people spec'ing it as part of a new home multi-room fitout, has anyone else?

Of course, it's VERY early days for Formation. It takes at least 2 years for most multi-room systems to find a reliable 'build' and up to 5 years to really gain some momentum... but is that quick enough for B&W to be happy with its ROI?
 

dubusduck

Novice Member
B&W speakers have not really been B&W speakers for a long time. Gaudy looks, stupid pricing, and mediocre performance in their mid tier products. I was a die hard B&W fan until they became posers. One of favorite speakers of all time was the B&W Matrix 805. Needed a sub, but everything else was exceptional.
 

encaser

Member
It would be sad if they folded. Still enjoy my 802's immensely.
 

Beagle64

Standard Member
I think that’s the problem....you still enjoy them because they’re so good you don’t need to buy anything else. Manufacturers face an increasingly difficult challenge in driving sales when so much of the products already sold are good enough.
 

musicguy

Novice Member
I agree with the above comment that B and W has really not been B and W for a long time. They started out as an audio purist company but have been heading farther and farther in the direction of the mass market for at least a decade. The turning point was when they started selling their lower end speakers at Best Buy. I knew that this decision would hurt them in the long run. This resulted in an identity crisis. They continued to make high end products but also started to make products to compete with companies like Bose and Sonos. Consequently, they have lost credibility among audiophiles. Audiophiles who like British speakers will now choose brands such as Harbeth, ATC, and Spendor over B and W. Even their higher end products have become gimmicky and are designed to sound "good" in the showroom rather than produce accurate sound. An example is the diamond tweeter, which I have always found to be gratingly harsh. I owned two admittedly less than top of the line B and W speakers that had overly bright highs and bloated bass. Their house sound also has a depressed midrange, which is easy on the ear but not especially accurate. This was not the original B and W sound; earlier B and W speakers had a flatter response. I believe Mr. Bowers would be unhappy with the direction his company has taken. B and W is still at or close to the top in market share but they have become a victim of their own success.
 

Noo

Standard Member
I've had quite a few B & W products, from my old 603s3, HTM centres, CM9s and 703s2. All fantastic in my opinion. I will counter the above comment in that in my B & W lifetime they have never been a flat performer... In every room I've had them in they sound warm and yes a little bright at times, my preference.

As for the England/China build, I've had my 603s3 and 703 stripped. I can't see any difference in build quality. My 603s3 are now gloss black, professionally sprayed, just couldn't part with them.
Maybe you have to go back into the last millinia to get the real deal?

Back to the article, sad times :( The days of audiophiles of old are over and I agree the mass market consumes awful convenience products. Where can you go when the market is dwindling? I guess you could say I'm the sort that would want a full house system but I see these products as fast moving and expensive. A dedicated av/listening room is still my utopia...

I hope they survive, I really do. I've sat in enough demo rooms to know they are what I would buy again and again.
 

musicguy

Novice Member
To each his own. I grew up with the "east coast" AR/KLH sound. I decided to try B and W speakers because I liked the dealer. Ultimately, they were just too colored for my taste. If B and Ws bring you closer to the music, go for it. My point was that B and W came from the British monitor tradition. Earlier B and Ws (long before the models you mentioned) had a flatter, more linear sound. John Bowers' goal was to build a loudspeaker that "neither adds nor subtracts" from the original performance. Whether their current offerings are consistent with that goal is a matter of opinion. I have no doubt that B and W will survive, albeit with some changes in their product line.
 

drummerman

Banned
Glad to read a sensible post like above which we seldom see these days. :)

Companies like B&W, Sonos, Bose etc. Are still out of touch with current trends. It is going to bite them back on a long run.
Sonos?

I'd guess they sell many times over what any 'Hifi' brand does ... . It's time though they offer some new stuff and keep innovating. It does start to look a little bit stale and lack of high resolution format support (unless I've missed something), whatever one thinks about that, is putting it behind competitors.

Legacy products and brands that fight integration will likely struggle and disappear over the next decade or so as the last generation of true 'audiophiles' are slowly ... IMHO.

B&W ... perhaps they should mostly stop producing Hifi stuff other than their Pro line and concentrate on TV add on speakers as they do already, car audio, develop life style products, act as suppliers to OEM's and generally cashing in on their heritage. - Dunno ... but I can't see many making fortunes out of conventional Hifi products anymore.

A partnership with a streaming/amplifier expert manufacturer and a good design studio perhaps?

I better add ... what do I know?!
 
Last edited:

Mr X

Distinguished Member
Having owned a pair few off their products overs the years I guess I am a fan of their design and sound.
In fact I have just pulled the trigger on a pair of formation Duo’s after having had a demo and really liked the sound and Roon/Tideal integration. However I did um and errr for a very long time as I do wonder how long their proprietary streaming audio will be around and supported and when I read this news I did have a moment of “oops”
Anyway I guess time will tell, I just hope it‘s not an expensive mistake on my part and they fully believe in a long term future of Formation.
 

Beagle64

Standard Member
Having owned a pair few off their products overs the years I guess I am a fan of their design and sound.
In fact I have just pulled the trigger on a pair of formation Duo’s after having had a demo and really liked the sound and Roon/Tideal integration. However I did um and errr for a very long time as I do wonder how long their proprietary streaming audio will be around and supported and when I read this news I did have a moment of “oops”
Anyway I guess time will tell, I just hope it‘s not an expensive mistake on my part and they fully believe in a long term future of Formation.
I think longevity is a concern for anyone buying into a streaming/wireless system. I can understand traditional hifi manufactures wanting to diversify but it seems to be a lot harder than it looks. Even Sonos who one could say are the market leaders in some areas although not true hifi can’t make a profit.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
I've also quite a few B&W speakers and the quality has been outstanding. In 2020 there are two simple facts.
1) People, especially the young, do not want large boxes in their living rooms anymore. Separates are dinosaurs.
2) Very few young people sit down and listen to music exclusively through a 'Hi Fi' system.

B&W have to change or ….
I really hope they survive because I am a big fan.
 

JohnBowers

Standard Member
Ok this is a quite crazy situation from my speculation

1. Formation was ready for production in 2016 and was going to use google chromecast.

2. This Korean guy (Gideon Yu) from EVA come with new patented WiFi technology wanting to include it in this range (that was almost complete), this caused the whole project to be delayed for three years whilst they iron out all the bugs in this system.

3. So this ex Facebook (yahoo and YouTube) CFO turns up wanting to bring the Bowers & Wilkins into the 21st century, first job fire some of the best people at B&W. Scare some others so they leave, chuck out some of the best R&D and creative people at B&W who now work for Apples Audio division.

4. Open an office in California and employ 90 top people from Google, Facebook and Samsung (Korean connection)....not sure what they know about the audio business?

5. This brings along a huge wage bill and to be truthful not much else, what have we really send since May 2016 when EVA bought B&W? Fast forward two years and most of these 90 people in the USA people have left or been fired.

6. So the reason for the problems is simple
  • Lack of new product or delayed launches
  • Huge wage bill for unnecessary USA team
  • Loose of great people and the superb team spirit at the company
All of the above is my speculation from monitoring various sources of information over the past four years since B&W was sold.
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Ok this is a quite crazy situation from my speculation
... monitoring various sources of information over the past four years since B&W was sold.
OK, now can we have someone with username RoyWilkins add to this?

:)
 

RoyWilkins

Novice Member
Firstly, couldn't resist the name Apollo83

Wow, it is scary how accurate John Bowers is ... it is almost as if he works there too.

To calm some fears ... overall this is exactly what the company needed. It would have been destroyed by Greg Lee (with Gideon watching from the sidelines) if this hadn't have happened.

However, it has been injured a great deal and will take time to recover. Lucky the action by the board was taken just in time, and people that are needed to do this are still there. Rest assure, this is far from the end of B&W, there will be greater things to come.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Wilkins & Bowers playing Good Cop Bad Cop lol
Great stuff
...and so the clever white coats have gone to Apple Audio? Interesting
Yet another great, solid company taken over and destroyed by high flying here today gone tomorrow quick buck clowns
I have a pair of their speakers and headphones, don't much rate them, but sincerely hope the company comes through this and maintains its original ethos, fully respecting how the brand gained its value and what it traditionally represented whilst returning to profit. The unpublished 2019 figures are unlikely to be good reading.
 

KAS118

Novice Member
Well I recently bought a Formation Bar, Base and Twin Flex. Everyone seems to knock it for not having HDMI - but at the end of the day it all works together extremely well - and sounds fantastic - isn't that the main concern - rather than its paper spec.? As for 'no remote' - it learns your TV remote - so you control it by that for volume - or set it up on your phone. Do you really want 'yet another' control hanging around your house!?
 

JohnBowers

Standard Member
Firstly, couldn't resist the name Apollo83

Wow, it is scary how accurate John Bowers is ... it is almost as if he works there too.

To calm some fears ... overall this is exactly what the company needed. It would have been destroyed by Greg Lee (with Gideon watching from the sidelines) if this hadn't have happened.

However, it has been injured a great deal and will take time to recover. Lucky the action by the board was taken just in time, and people that are needed to do this are still there. Rest assure, this is far from the end of B&W, there will be greater things to come.
Missing You Roy!
 

Trending threads

Latest News

Britbox now available on LG smart TVs
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Virgin Media TV customers get 18 free channels
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
AVForums Podcast: 6th April 2020
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
BenQ launches new Home Cinema and Gaming projectors
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Acorn TV streaming service to launch in UK
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Top Bottom