Are you planning to upgrade your home sound system? Suppose you’re deciding to switch to better-quality speakers, headphones, and other audio equipment. In that case, you may have probably heard of Bose, one of the world’s leading names in consumer electronics, especially audio equipment.
Bose is a Massachusetts-based American company that primarily manufactures and sells audio equipment, such as audio systems, speakers, noise-canceling headphones, professional and commercial audio products, and automobile sound systems.
Bose was founded in Massachusetts in 1964 by Amar Bose. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 2, 1929, of Indian, German, and French ancestry. As a young boy, he showed a great interest in all things electrical. He also displayed his entrepreneurial skills and passion. When he was thirteen, he formed a small home business specializing in repairing model trains and home radios to augment his family’s income. He hired some of his school friends to work with him in his little business.
Mr. Bose entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in the 1950s. Upon graduation, he became an assistant professor at MIT, although he was also interested in research. Mr. Bose went on to teach at MIT for 45 years.
Mr. Bose loved to listen to classical music. His interest in speaker systems began in the mid-1950s when he purchased a stereo system and was disappointed by its inferior sound, despite the impressive technical specifications. That inspired him to make a better sound system that could replicate the sound of a live performance heard from a concert hall.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Bose invented a new type of stereo speaker, which consisted of multiple smaller speakers. His mentor at MIT, Professor Y.W. Lee, motivated him to pursue long-term research in acoustics. That inspired Bose to found his own company, in 1964, with Mr. Lee being one of his angel investors.
Mr. Bose was striving to create the next generation of speakers. In 1968, the company unveiled the Bose 901 stereo speaker system – it consisted of eight mid-range drivers pointing towards the wall behind the speaker, with the ninth driver pointing towards the listener. The purpose of this design was to achieve a dominance of reflected over direct sound in home listening spaces. The design of the 901 system was unprecedented, as most stereo speakers at the time consisted of mid-range and high-frequency speakers that directly faced the listener. The 901 stereo speaker system helped establish Bose as the leader in the audio components market.
The company continued pioneering in this field. It launched home theater systems, wave radios, and the Boise noise-canceling headphones.
Bose’s products were so successful that they were even adopted by pilots from both military and commercial aviation sectors.
Still passionate about research, Mr. Bose designed a software program that allowed acoustic engineers to simulate the sound from any seat in a concert hall. Many locations and venues, such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA, and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy, used this sound system.
Mr. Bose was more interested in revolutionizing the speaker systems and acoustics than making money. Despite that, the company became really profitable because of its high-quality products. By the 1980s, car makers like Porsche and Mercedes began installing Bose audio systems in their vehicles.
He continued his professorship at MIT until 2001, where he employed unconventional teaching methods to motivate his students. In 2011, Mr. Bose donated the majority of the company’s non-voting shares to the MIT on the condition that they would not be sold. Since these shares are non-voting, the MIT does not participate in the operational or governing affairs of the company. Amar Bose died on July 12, 2013, aged 83.
Primary products and services
Bose offers a wide array of audio equipment, such as speakers, noise-canceling headphones, and home theater. The company has also added wearable audio and other products, such as hearing aids and sleep buds., to its product roster.
Automotive – Bose has supplied audio systems for many car manufacturers since the 1980s. Automotive brands like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Porsche have Bose audio systems in their vehicles.
Home audio and video – Bose’s home audio and video product range include:
- Amplifiers for CD players, DVD players, and AV receivers
- Mono, stereo, and surround sound speakers
- Speakers with bass
- Portable media player
- Car audio
- HomeTheatre (2.1 systems, 5.1 systems, and speaker packages)
- Smart home devices
- Soundbar devices
Headphones – They include wired and wireless and over-ear and in-ear types. Bose has also sold aviation headsets since the late 1980s and consumer headphones since the 2000s. Popular products are the “Quiet Comfort” series (both headphones and earphones), Sleepbuds, and Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
Industrial headphones – They include the A20 Aviation Headset, Combat Vehicle Crewman Headset, and the Triport Tactical Headset.
Audio sunglasses – These sunglasses have built-in open-ear audio, microphone, and Bluetooth connectivity (range of nine meters). The sunglasses themselves have UVA/UVB protection.
Revenue and number of employees
According to the company’s annual report, Bose generated sales of $3.2 billion in the fiscal year 2020. Here’s a table of Bose’s annual revenues from the fiscal years 2017 to 2021:
|Fiscal year||Revenue (in billions)|
Bose employed over 7,000 people worldwide for the fiscal year 2021. Here’s a table of Bose’s annual employee report from the fiscal years 2017 to 2021:
|Fiscal year||Number of employees worldwide|
Source: these figures have been taken from the company’s annual sustainability reports from 2017 to 2021.
Interesting facts about Bose
- Bose’s headquarters are located in Framingham, Massachusetts.
- Bose is currently owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
- Bose is one of the few companies that hasn’t gone public yet despite its massive market presence. The reason is that the company focuses more on research and development than on making profits.
- Amar Bose was ranked the 271st richest man in the world by Forbes in 2007, having a net worth of $1.8 billion. He returned to the list in 2011 with a net worth of $1 billion.
- Bose opened its first physical store in 1993.
- In 2020, Bose announced it would close all of its stores in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan in 2020 but would keep open another 130 stores in Southeast Asia, India, South Korea, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
- In 2020, Bose elected its first female CEO, Lila Snyder. An MIT alumna, Snyder was formerly an executive at Pitney Bowes, a tech company known for its postage meters and other mailing equipment and services.
- Bose’s production facilities are located in the US, Mexico, China, and Malaysia.
- Bose is probably the only company that doesn’t provide technical specifications for its products (remember how Bose was disappointed with his first set of speakers, despite the impressive specifications?). As such, it gets challenging to compare Bose products with products of rival brands.
- Bose still conducts basic research on audio and other related fields, as research is still, and shall remain, its focus.