Devialet wants to compete with Apple in Wireless Headphones
It is one of the most dynamic markets for electronic products that the French brand could no longer ignore. It is attacking it with a premium product directly competing with Apple's AirPods, the best-seller in the sector, which also marks an acceleration in the pace of new products which will now be released every six months.
It is a two-way optical effect. The size of the new products launched by Devialet is shrinking at the same rate as the potential of their market is growing. This is once again the case for their Gemini in-ear headphones, which will be possible to pre-order this Saturday, and which directly compete with Apple’s AirPods , kings in the segment with more than 45% of the market. according to Counterpoint Research. “We hesitated on the next product we wanted to launch, and we went back to our fundamentals: to provide the best sound experience to as many people as possible,” says Franck Lebouchard, its CEO, to “Echos”.
If some internally advocated rather high-fidelity headphones, it was ultimately the path of these small headphones that was favored two years ago, when the project took shape. Notably because its market is booming with 40.7 million units sold in 2019 (or 50% of the “wearable” segment), according to IDC, and phenomenal growth expected this year to – no doubt – at least 200 million of units. But to insert itself where giants like Apple, Samsung or Huawei crush the competition, Devialet has had to overcome several technological challenges, notably requiring the publication of three patents , including two on active noise cancellation.
Designed in France and made in China
Because to exist in this niche, it is necessary to tick several boxes in order to propose to the users to use these headphones in “neutral”, “transparent”, or active mode in “cancellation of the ambient noise”, but also in microphone for telephoning. “The challenge was very high ,” says the CEO of the scale-up. It was necessary to import the Devialet sound into a miniature object, but also that it be affordable while being in the price range of our competitors. ” Gemini will be offered 299 euros where AirPods Pro amounts to 279 euros. In volume, it will no doubt be difficult to do as well as Apple, which has considerable firepower. But with his technology, the Frenchman hopes to be able to play much better than a simple role of extra.
To remain competitive, the French brand has chosen to entrust its production to Tiin Lab , the main Chinese manufacturer for this type of object. What can appear as a break with the “made in France” defended by Devialet until then is the result of an economic law of the market, justifies Franck Lebouchard: “To bring out a product of this quality within these deadlines and with this price , we had to partner with a partner. It has the highest expertise in the field with tens of millions of units manufactured each year. ”
Three new licenses to come
This type of partnership could be renewed in the future. The leader assures that the brand will accelerate the rate of release of its new products, now every six months, the last dating back to two years with the Reactor speaker . To do this, Devialet intends to rely even more on its distribution network, which has grown from 450 to 1,200 points of sale in two and a half years.
This increased pace goes hand in hand with the company’s other source of revenue, licensing. After having equipped the telecom boxes of Free in France and Altice in the United States , as well as the connected speakers of Huawei and Belkin, three other groups should announce the integration of Devialet technology in the next three months. “The goal is that licenses represent 15 to 20% of our turnover” , which the manager does not disclose. With 45 million euros raised in secret from its historical investors last January, and a loan guaranteed by the State (PGE) of 15 million granted during confinement, the Parisian company ensures that it is in a good position to materialize all these projects which must increase its notoriety tenfold in an increasingly disputed sector.
Devialet has made the battery of the box that charges its headphones accessible in order to reduce their ecological footprint. This choice, unique on the market, slightly increased the final size of the object.