“A great product doesn’t mean an expensive product. It means a fair price. When we can do great products and achieve a great price, we feel great. But what we shouldn’t do is say, ‘ We’ve got to have something for this price, and then let’s see what we can do for it.’ That’s not how we think. Our customers have high expectations, and we’re not going to try to pass off something—we would never do that. That’s not how we think.” Apple CEO, Tim Cook
I could not agree more, this is exactly how we do things at Beyond Audio. We don’t build the the individual products of course, but rather assemble great products into great systems, and to do so we must find companies that think like we do.
Take Bowers and Wilkins. Before I was in the electronics systems contracting business I was a musician, record producer and audio engineer – and I needed a good sounding stereo for my personal and professional use. After looking around for a very long time, I did not have a huge budget, I came across speakers by Bowers and Wilkins. I had never heard of this speaker company, but was very impressed by the quality of the sound compared to other similarly priced and more famous speakers. In other words, Value! I bought a pair of their speakers and have owned them ever since.
Fast forward to 1995 when I started Beyond Audio. I called up the sales rep for Bowers and Wilkins and became the dealer for the brand in the Okanagan Valley. There are only 2 or 3 brands that have managed to stay with us over the years, most do not make the grade; B&W is one of the best. Triad Speakers is another www.triadspeakers.com
The reason B& W has stayed in our product mix is value, plain and simple. Every time we compare a competing speaker of the same size, style, and price against a Bowers and Wilkins speaker, B & W comes out ahead, and there are solid, logical reasons for this.
They design their speakers themselves – most speaker companies design to a price point (see the apple statement above)
They care about what they are doing. Most speaker companies are in fact marketing companies that happen to sell speakers.
B & W speakers are used in recording studios around the world. Abby Roads Studios in London shown here. They have a reputation to uphold.
“A great product doesn’t mean an expensive product, it means a fair price.”
In my business, the products themselves are rarely used in isolation, rather they are parts of a larger system. A great deal of the inherent value is the particular products ability to work well as part of a system. There are plenty of brands with great name recognition and brand cache that are terrible when used as part of a system. In other words, No value!
This next section is from a recent blog by John Sciacca.
We work in an industry where, “It depends…” can be the answer to almost every question. “How much is a TV?” “How much is a surround system?” “How much is a projector?” “How much is a good pair of speakers?” It depends…
Part of the difference and unique challenge that our industry faces is that many of our customers have no real idea or grasp of the individual parts that make up a system; they instead think in terms of the whole project, and often dictate the very number that we must work toward.
When asking customers for their budget on a project, it isn’t uncommon for them to retort with some comment like, “If I tell you my budget is $20,000, then you’re just going to give me a proposal that is $20,000.” And that’s exactly right. Because $20,000 could easily be $50,000. And $50,000 could easily be $100,000. And $100,000 could be…
Value and price are difficult to quantify in a system that may consist of 20, 50, 100 or more individual pieces, and product costs vary to a degree not found in most other elements of a construction project. Flooring can vary greatly from vinyl to say marble, but it is only 1 element and the differences and relative value between these materials is easily understood by everyone. When there are a hundred elements making up a system, many of which are not well understood by the client, it very difficult to know where the value lies. It is up to the electronic systems designer to be very good at designing in value, and to do it all for a fair price.
B & W is an example of how I approach designing systems for people, regardless of budget. B & W makes speakers at $ 300 a pair all the way up to $ 70,000 a pair, and in the right circumstance both ends of this price scale represent great value.
We have found that every client, regardless of overall budget, comes to us because they want real expertise and a level of service not typically found elsewhere. In short, they have high expectations.
While it is easy enough for anyone with an internet connection to figure out how much the TV might cost, there are a lot of other elements that are needed for that TV to work as expected, and the value we bring is knowing how to actually make it all happen. Not kind of happen, but actually make systems work as expected and to meet those high expectations. Picking products that deliver real value is only the first step.
We are happy to design systems at a lower cost, but making systems cheaper will have to be left to others. Mr. Cook is right, we are not going to pass off something. We would never do that.