North Reading, Mass. - High-end speaker supplier Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) launched its second iPod speaker system as part of a plan to expand farther beyond its core home- and car-speaker markets into new product categories, including stereo headphones and PC speakers.
The expansion will take place under the auspices of a New Media division that begins operation on Oct. 1 under the leadership of former Netcom/Jabra executive Jan McNair. Additional products from the division will join the new iPod speaker within the next six months.
The new iPod speaker system, the $399-suggested Zeppelin Mini, ships in November to join the company's original iPod speaker system, the $599 Zeppelin, which was launched in 2007. The new model is smaller, delivers less power and lacks a video output compared to its predecessor, but it adds some key new features. It captures the digital output of an iPod or iPhone instead of the analog output, and its mini-USB input is available to amplify PC and laptop music and sync the content of a docked iPod or iPhone with a PC. The original Zeppelin's USB input was designed only for software upgrades. In addition, although both models feature a flexible docking arm, the Mini's arm enables vertical or horizontal mounting of an iPod Touch or iPhone.
The Mini uses two 3-inch full-range speakers and 2x18-watt amplifier, while the larger Zeppelin features three-way speaker system with two 1-inch tweeters, two 3.5-inch midranges, and a single 5-inch bass driver. Amplifier output is 2x25 watts plus 1x50 watts. Both Zeppelins are certified as Works with iPhone.
The Mini will be available Apple retail stores, the online Apple Store, Amazon.com, Bowers & Wilkins's network of brick-and-mortar retailers, upscale cataloger Frontgate, upper-end department stores and online retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue (Saks.com) and Neiman Marcus (NeimanMarcus.com), and musical instrument stores Musicians Friend (MusiciansFriend.com) and Guitar Center (GuitarCenter.com).