Bose enters open-ear headphone market

November 27, 2023, Harman announced the acquisition of Roon, a music software company most well-known for its Roon app. Roon Labs was founded in 2015, but its journey in music technology began much earlier, in 2004. The founders were involved in developing music software for companies like Sooloos, Meridian Audio, and HP before establishing Roon Labs.

Roon is a music platform that enables users to play music from multiple sources to multiple devices. The Roon server manages the content and distribution and can sit on several types of devices (Windows PC, Mac, NAS, etc.) and can be controlled on these devices or using smartphones, tablets, etc.

Roon is notable for its compatibility with a wide range of devices. It works with several multi-room audio systems such as AirPlay, Chromecast, Sonos and products from 100s of audio brands, including Harman brands such as JBL (see here).

The press release states “Aligned with its ‘work with all’ strategy, HARMAN is committed to growing Roon’s open device ecosystem which includes collaborating with more than 160 other audio brands, delivering audio to more than 1000 high-performance devices.” This can be a little tricky when those brands in the ecosystem are competitors to Harman and its parent company Samsung. We’ve seen this situation several times in the multi-room audio market, and each time there has been limitation to adoption due to a parent company being in competition with the companies it is trying to license the technology to. Maybe this time it will be a success.

The press release also states that “Roon will operate as a standalone Harman business with its existing team. All Roon operations will stay in place and continue to be dedicated to serving and growing Roon’s community of device partners and customers, under a joint mission to deliver engaging and personalized audio experiences across a universe of products and platforms.” Remaining independent will be key to Roon’s future success.

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