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Bose SoundDock 10 and the Art of the Product Launch

This morning, at a tony little press briefing at Manhattan’s poshest dining spot, Thomas Keller’s Per Se at the Time Warner Center, Bose introduced its latest iPod speaker system, the SoundDock10. Why roll out the short ribs with Bordelaise and heirloom tomato salad for just another consumer electronics introduction?

Bose SoundDock10

This morning, at a tony little press briefing at Manhattan’s poshest dining spot, Thomas Keller’s Per Se at the Time Warner Center, Bose introduced its latest iPod speaker system, the SoundDock10.

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Why roll out the short ribs with Bordelaise and heirloom tomato salad for just another consumer electronics introduction?

Because unlike many tech companies, whose newest gizmos are often driven more by marketing considerations than engineering innovations, Bose only rolls out a new product when it’s legitimately got something to say.

The last time Bose introduced a docking station was in 2004 (hard to guess how many dozens of iPod iterations we’ve seen in the interim.) It’s still the gold standard for many audiophiles. The new SoundDock 10 was three years in the making, and boasts 11 new patents, as well as a slew of Bose proprietary technology advances too secret to reveal even in patents. This is, Bose execs say, not just a superficial upgrade to satisfy the gadget gurus who flock to CES.

Sound Dock

I’m no audiophile, but from what I heard in that sizable (roughly 25 feet wide, 40 feet long) satin-draped room, the sound quality was pretty remarkable. Starting with the dramatic acoustics of a raging thunderstorm, Bose executives ran through a variety of musical pieces, ranging from a fluttery soprano singing Lakme’s “Bell Song,” to Strauss’s “Polka Opus 43” with its crashing explosive ending, to Wynton Marsalis’s rumbling “Ghost in the House,” to demonstrate the system’s three new primary new features: clarity of notes across the musical spectrum, concert hall volume, and the ability to produce deep low notes.

Among the breakthroughs: the proprietary Bose wave guide technology, reduced from 75 inches to 52 inches, folded snake-like in a case that’s not much bigger (17 inches wide, 9 inches high, 10 inches deep) than the previous system, that delivers the same sound quality. It’s matched with a newly designed woofer, that reportedly delivers four times the efficiency of a conventional woofer.

The wave guide and the woofer are connected by a metal cap that provides magnetic shielding, directs air through the enclosure, and withstands high internal pressure created when the system is played. It was fun to watch the curtains behind the system flutter as volume increased. To keep the system cool, the SoundDock 10’s innards are configured to create a “chimney effect,” sucking in cool air at the bottom, blowing it out the top.

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As might be expected (note posh precincts for launch, above), this system is not for the budget-minded. It goes on sale on Sept. 21 for $599. For an extra $149, buyers who prefer to manage their music while sitting on the sofa using their iPhone or Ipod Touch, can upgrade to a Bluetooth dock, and stream music wirelessly. That interchangeable dock will allow Bose to “future-proof” the system.

At 83, Bose CEO Amar Bose, is still thinking ahead.

Sound Dock Parts

[Photos Courtesy of Bose]

About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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