OK fair enough, this does not exactly qualify as news, after all Bang Olufsen discontinued their phones last year (2009), and by the looks of it are on the way to giving the axe to their MP3 players too. However when browsing their website a few thoughts occured to me about this subject, and it led me to do a little research.
Essentially following the economic crisis Bang Olufsen rather unsuprisingly found customers willing to fork out vast sums for their products were rather thin on the ground. Presented with this reality a purveyor of luxury goods has 2 choices, go high or go low, I am happy that B&O decided the former, many are the brand that faced with economic ruin attempts to save themselves by producing endless amounts of little trinkets that allow people who formerly were unable to do so the ability to buy into it (1980s gucci anybody?). It is a brave decision to cut the fat, borrow more money and basically just stick two thumbs up to the standard consumer, and aim ones sights firmly at the top end of the market, B&O did, and I feel they will be considerably better off from choosing this path.
I am a huge fan of Bang Olufsen, I have written a couple of posts about their products, and when it comes time to buy any products in the AV field, I always go to them first, then start working my way down from their. Of course they are not the ABSOLUTE best, there are more expensive options out there, but for my money they always hit the spot, both quality wise and design wise.
However, I have, and very probably will, never understand their decision to produce a sub standard range of mobile telephones and MP3 players, the Beosound 2 was in its day outstanding, and still purely from an audiophiles perspective is, producing unheard of audio from a device which had up to a 2gb capacity. Technology though has the capacity to quickly expire at all levels, and particularly within the arena of personal tech accesories, everyone always wants new and better, now one can pick up a tiny ipod shuffle with 3 times the capacity for only £50, which frankly makes the £200+ price tag of the Beosound 2 an insult and a joke, then if you take the Beosound 6, I mean seriously take it, and burn it preferably. The moment I saw this thing I knew straight away that Bang Olufsen had lost their way a little bit, i mean essentially this thing is a Samsung yepp in silver and black, and with a limited 6gb storage!!!! Honestly BO what were you thinking?
And finally the Phones, I could talk for hours about these things, as in how much I hate them, they are without question both the most pointless and most over designed pieces of crap ever to march forth from the bowels of a telecom manafacturer. It was almost as if the Bang Olufsen designers were wearing blindfolds when they made these things, for goodness sake, or I perhaps imagine some kind of great big hat filled with ideas, and they randomly picked out say 10 of them, and said to each other "right thats that then well just have to design the phone in this way, the hat told us to". upside down screen? Rotating keypad? side ways camera? 'hifi speaker? why? why? just why?
So well done to Bang and olufsen for trimming the fat both provebially and literally, they will unboubtably come out stronger than ever from this recession.