Meizu hopes Indiegogo can fund its first US product
Meizu is an organization most People doubtless have not heard of. Nevertheless it’s truly one of many largest shopper digital manufacturers in China, having bought over 20 million smartphones final yr. Its newest and biggest handheld is the Meizu Professional 6, which boasts a 5.2-inch Tremendous AMOLED show, a 21-megapixel digital camera and a whopping 10-core processor. Now, the corporate has its sights set on the US market. However it’s not planning on introducing a telephone right here. As an alternative, it is launching a wi-fi speaker. And it is doing so, surprisingly sufficient, by way of crowdfunding website Indiegogo.
However earlier than we get into why Meizu is doing this, let’s go over what the product is. The wi-fi speaker known as Gravity, and it is designed to look as if it is floating on air. Designed by Japanese designer Kosho Tsuboi, the speaker truly sits on prime of a clear block of acrylic, which at sure angles, appears as if it isn’t there. The acrylic block is positioned off-middle, which could make you involved concerning the speaker tipping over, however Meizu has added sufficient weight in order that it will not. Stacked proper atop that’s an acrylic prism, which refracts a particular floating show that disappears when not in use, including to the phantasm of transparency.
The general speaker has a comparatively small footprint (262mm x 58mm x 47mm), and although I do not know its actual weight, it had a pleasant strong heft to it once I tried shifting it round. That is undoubtedly the type of speaker you would go away someplace to look good, fairly than one thing you’d carry round from room to room. Seeing as it isn’t battery-powered — you will have to plug it into the wall — it is fairly apparent that this isn’t meant to be extremely moveable. Except for the clear acrylic, the speaker housing itself is metallic, with a tender mesh material masking the entrance and rear grille. It’s going to value $200 at retail.
As for audio high quality, Meizu says it is labored with Dirac, a Swedish firm specializing in acoustic engineering. It has customized audio system with “twin passive resonance membrane” for a stronger bass and is included with Dirac’s proprietary “HD Sound” tech. You’ll be able to set the audio system up over WiFi utilizing the Gravity app, but when that is an excessive amount of of a problem, you may also use it by way of Bluetooth or an AUX-in port. Sadly, the prototype I dealt with was a non-working mannequin so I could not check out the Gravity’s supposed audio properties.
In some methods, the Gravity is a return to Meizu’s roots; it began in 2003 as a producer of MP3 gamers. “We was primary,” stated Lola Wu, Meizu’s senior product and advertising supervisor. “A number of younger individuals in China used our merchandise.” Then, the corporate shifted focus to creating smartphones. It will definitely received right into a little bit of a rivalry with Xiaomi, the opposite massive smartphone maker within the area. Wu tells me that Meizu’s founder, Jack Wong, and Xiaomi’s founder, Lei Jun, was associates, however that their visions have been totally different. Wong, she says, is extra of a designer, whereas Jun is extra of a businessman. “Our boss is all the time targeted on design […] He needs every thing to be good.”
The Gravity, then, is a logo of Meizu’s heritage of design and music. In contrast to smartphones which are disposed of each two years, Wu tells me that the Gravity is supposed to be a bit of artwork. It is purposefully design-targeted and, as its Japanese designer is from a Buddhist monk background, it is meant to invoke the religious with its minimalist look.
So why launch this within the US? Why not promote considered one of its many smartphones right here as an alternative? It is partly as a result of Meizu is properly conscious that its telephones look far too just like the iPhone when it comes to design. “We all know that,” Wu says, including that it simply would not present sufficient differentiation. Additional, the Meizu model simply is not as nicely-recognized stateside and could be seen as inferior. “There’s an concept that Made in China is an affordable product,” says Wu. “These days that is modified.” That is partly why the corporate was so insistent on making the Gravity a premium system; to rid itself of that stigma.
However a key cause why Meizu selected to launch a wi-fi speaker within the US is because of the distinction between US and Chinese language markets. Wi-fi audio system like Sonos, Wu tells me, simply aren’t common in China, maybe as a result of the standard Chinese language house does not have a number of rooms. The US market, however, seems to have embraced excessive-finish wi-fi audio system as a common idea from the likes of not simply Sonos, but in addition Bose and JBL. That is to not say the corporate will not ultimately promote the Gravity in China too, however it figured this was the corporate’s greatest shot at gaining a US viewers.
As for the choice to go on Indiegogo, it is clearly not due to the cash; Meizu is a profitable firm that would very properly have manufactured the product and bought it with out challenge. “It is as a result of we’d like ideas!” says Wu. “We’d like suggestions concerning the product. We would like the pickiest market to inform us what they assume.”
I’ve to say the acrylic blocks strike me as a contact cheesy and a tiny bit impractical — I might really feel slightly safer if the speaker laid flat on the desk as an alternative of being balanced on a block. Nonetheless, I do assume it seems to be fairly cool with its “floating” design and there are in all probability people who find themselves much more discerning than me who may like one thing as inventive as this.
So in case you’re eager on testing Meizu’s first-ever US product, take a look at Gravity’s Indiegogo web page to seek out out extra particulars about it in addition to the historical past behind the design. Early chook backers can get it for $169 as an alternative of the retail $199. Wu tells me that if the product will get sufficient funding, they could decrease the worth even additional. Estimated supply date is December 2016.