How Bose competes with AirPods — and why it’s in more cars than ever, with CEO Lila Snyder

Bose is one of the most recognizable audio brands in the world: it was famous for the Wave radio in the ’80s, it invented noise cancellation, you can see its logo on NFL sidelines every Sunday, and of course, there are the popular consumer products like the QuietComfort headphones that reviewers like Chris Welch here at The Verge rate as some of the best in the game. Bose is in tons of cars as well: audio systems in GM, Honda, Hyundai, Porsche, and more are developed and tuned by Bose.

Bose was founded in 1964 by Amar Bose, who donated a majority of the shares of the company to MIT, where he was a professor. That means that, to this day, Bose is a private company with no pressure to go public. However, Bose still has to compete against Big Tech in talent, products, and compatibility.

So today, I’m talking to Bose CEO Lila Snyder about Bose’s dependence on platform vendors like Apple and Google, how she thinks about standards like Bluetooth, and where she thinks she can compete and win against AirPods and other products that get preferential treatment on phones.

Lila Snyder is the CEO of Bose. Welcome to Decoder.

Thanks so much for having me.

I’m really excited to talk to you. Bose is a fascinating company. It’s a household name that has been around for a long time, and it’s the speaker brand I aspired to own as a teen. It has this really long, interesting history. It’s also privately held, so we don’t get a chance to look under the hood of a company like Bose very often. How would you describe Bose today?

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In many ways, Bose is the same, yet very different from how it has been in the past. Bose was founded almost 60 years ago by Dr. Bose, professor at MIT, and the core of it was innovation. It was meant to be a company that could focus on research and innovation and bring technology that has real impact on customers to the market. The great thing is that part of the company is still alive and well today. That’s really at the core of who we are as a culture and as a company. So in that way, it’s quite the same. 

Obviously the first products were speakers, consumer audio, and that is still pretty much what we do today, but everything else has changed around it. The market, the competitive set, and the technology we’re using are all obviously very different and much more advanced today versus where we started, but there’s a lot that’s the same, which is pretty exciting.

So that first piece is Dr. Bose, the inventor of the famous Wave radio. It was the Bose product that sort of defined the ‘80s and ‘90s. He invented that, there was a patent, and he built an entire product portfolio around that. 

Things have dramatically changed since then. I don’t think you still sell Wave radios at the rate you used to. Is the basis of the company still, “We’re going to invent some core technology and expand that into a series of product lines,” or is it different?

Yeah, it’s pretty much the same. We’re really focused on what we call our three technology franchises, and they will probably not surprise you. 

The first one is noise cancellation, which Bose invented over 20 years ago. Those headsets that we all loved when we got on planes in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, and that we still love. We think there’s a ton more about noise cancellation that is yet to be invented.

The second one is lifelike immersive audio, like the artist intended it. It’s the kind of audio that makes you feel like you’re hearing what the artist wanted you to hear and you feel immersed in it. It’s mood-changing, altering, and magical. 

The third franchise is a little bit different and nuanced, and it is actually made possible by new technology like AI. It’s something we call “hearing what you want.” Noise cancellation was this amazing thing that started by just taking away as much of the noise as you possibly could. “Hearing what you want” is a more nuanced view that says, “In some situations there are noises I want to hear and others that I don’t.”

How do we use AI to pick out which sounds you want to hear and which ones you don’t, and then automatically make those adjustments for you?

How do we use technology, and AI in particular, to pick out which sounds you want to hear and which ones you don’t, and how do we automatically make those adjustments for you? 

We focus on those three technology franchises, from research core, early research, all the way through development and into products. It’s really those three technologies that differentiate Bose today. Yes, we’re still thinking about how we take those technologies and push them through to different products and experiences for our customers.

Those are the three franchises: noise cancellation, immersive audio, and hearing what you want. I want to push immersive audio on because there’s a lot going on in that space recently. It’s hard to make that sale historically, but I’m curious about it. And related to “hearing what you want,” the FDA has just released some rules about hearing aids. There is a lot of hearing augmentation happening in the world. So I do want to talk about those three, but I want to start with what I think of as the Decoder questions. You’re a relatively new CEO there. It’s been about two years now, maybe a little bit more. How did you end up as CEO of Bose?

I feel very lucky actually. It’s such an amazing brand. If I think about when I first got the call and started the process to come to Bose, I anchored on three things that are hard to find in a company. 

One was the innovation culture that I’ve already talked about. It’s difficult to create that, and having almost 60 years of history of bringing really groundbreaking innovation to the market is pretty amazing. I love that; it’s just such a great brand. You mentioned your first experience with the brand. My first experience was a Wave radio that I saved money to buy when I had a tiny apartment in graduate school. It was a magical moment, being able to bring that into my home. We all have our first Bose moment, which is pretty exciting. The brand has a ton of power. I think it resonates in a unique way with consumers.

What I learned through even the first couple of conversations is that the culture and the talent at Bose are so special that it’s a place you want to be. It has an intellectual culture, a smart culture, and a passionate culture. Those three things drew me to Bose. 

I think my experience that got me here is really all about digital and software transformation and how digital technologies are transforming business. If you draw a thread through everything I’ve done in my career, that is probably the red thread you would draw. I think that is fundamentally the experience I’m bringing to Bose that’s really important.

There’s a big idea embedded in the phrase “digital transformation,” which I think people use a lot. Whenever I hear it, it just means, “We’re going to replace a bunch of stuff with computers. We’re going to go from a bunch of mechanical engineers modeling out Wave radio baffles to a computer doing some AI stuff that tells you what you want to hear.”

In the broadest sense, that is what digital transformation means. Is that what you think it means? That’s what I think it means, but what is your view? Do you see it as, Bose is getting computerized and what it makes now is computers? Is that the process you’re in charge of managing?

I tend to think of it from the customer first, and then back. How do we use technology to create better experiences for customers? Those experiences could be the audio experiences, like the noise canceling. You can’t get those experiences without hardware.

“We’re just as much a hardware company as we always have been, but it’s using software to build the magic around that.”

We’re just as much a hardware company as we always have been, but it’s using software to build the magic around that, that really creates new, better, and differentiated experiences. 

Similarly, how do we use technology to make the customer experience better at every touchpoint? How do we make it better when you interact with your headphones, your car audio, or the speakers in your home, but also when you interact with us, when you reach out to customer service, when you shop on Bose.com or interact with Bose in any way? So I tend to think about how technology makes the consumer experience better, and then we work backwards.

You work backwards, so, fundamentally, what you ship now is computers?

In a way. If you think about the earbuds I’m wearing or any product that you use today, the majority of the experience in a headphone today is being created by software. That’s been true for a while. A digital signal processor (DSP) is not a new concept in terms of the way that we create audio products. We have been layering software into our products for a very long time. What’s happening now is that with more compute capability, the sophistication of that software, at the edge, in my ear, is getting more and more sophisticated and allowing us to do things that create better experiences.

A great example of that is our QuietComfort Earbuds II, which I happen to be wearing today. They have a technology called CustomTune technology. The cool thing about CustomTune is that noise cancellation, since its invention, has been an optimization to the average. You’re optimizing the noise cancellation for the average consumer, and it works pretty well for everyone. What we realized is that the most important thing about sound happens to be geometry — the shape of the room that you’re in, and in the case of an earbud, the shape of your ear canal.

What CustomTune does and what enables it is the ability to compute at the edge. It allows us to play a tone, map your ear canal, and then do a whole lot of math very quickly to customize the noise cancellation and the audio performance to the unique geometry of your ear. That is something that you could have imagined a decade ago, but you couldn’t have done because you need the compute power to enable you to do that.

This is a classic Decoder question I ask whenever this sort of idea comes up. Once you start shipping computers, you kind of inherit a bunch of computer problems. You get a lot of capability, as you’re describing. You have the compute, you have a chip small enough and low-power enough to do something like CustomTune in-ear in real time. That’s mind-blowing if you remember computers long ago. Right now, it might be what everyone expects, but I agree that it’s mind-blowing.

That means you have to issue software updates. It means you have to think about malware potentially. It means you have to have a lot of software engineers. Almost every hardware company CEO that I’ve talked to that has started shipping software eventually says, “Oh, we actually have more software engineers than hardware engineers.” What’s the split at Bose?

I don’t know the exact split, but we definitely have a lot of software engineers. I would say there are two things that create the magical experiences. One is the software that we’ve been talking about. Our software engineering team has been growing, and yes, our cybersecurity team is growing. We think about all of those things, of course. 

The other thing that is really important is the holistic systems engineering of how you position the hardware components to enable the best experience. So there’s still a lot of hardware magic that has to happen to bring that whole system together. For sure, if you look at the trajectory, the mix of our engineers has shifted over time like everyone else’s, and we have a lot of software engineers at Bose.

Actually, let’s go even one step further. Here’s a classic Decoder question. How are you structured? How does Bose work?

It’s a great question. It has changed a little bit actually, but probably not surprisingly, since I joined Bose.

Oh, don’t worry. That was the follow-up question. What did you change? 

I’ll do both at once just for efficiency’s sake. At the highest level, we are functionally organized at Bose. I think what’s important is why we have chosen to do it that way and how we make sure we maintain a maniacal focus on the customer. 

If you have a functional organization, there is always the risk that you somehow lose sight of the customer and then swing back to a more divisional structure. That is the typical academic view of things. So at Bose we have adopted a functional organization, and I think the final stage of that, which we went through about a year ago, was with our engineering team. Historically, we had engineering that was more broken up across our different business units. So think about our consumer business versus our automotive business, or even our headphones business and our in-home sound bar and speaker business. We brought all of that together. 

The reason we did that is because the technology franchises that I described earlier — the noise removal, the lifelike audio, hearing what you want — are consistent across every product line that we produce at Bose. Those are the three core elements of each. What we found was that we needed to bring more of that together to get more and faster innovation spreading across the company. We have been really excited about the results of that so far, and that has been an exciting transition for us.

It’s also starting to unlock what we internally call our “better together” strategy. As we continue to create these little computers that we’re putting into the world, how do we make them better together? Think about your in-home soundbar or headphones as you get into your car. How do we make those two things that Bose makes work better together so that we can create a better experience for you? That’s almost impossible to do if you’re working in a more product-oriented or siloed manner. Bringing all of our research and development and engineering talent into one organization is just creating a mushroom effect on the ideas and the possibilities that we can create at those intersections, which is really exciting. That’s one big change that we’ve made and probably the final push into a truly functional organization.

The other is probably from a product standpoint. Dr. Bose was such a renaissance founder, as many founders are. He really was the chief engineer, the chief product officer, and the chief marketing officer. He played all of those roles, and over time, as he moved away from the company and leadership changed, it really became an engineering-led culture, not surprisingly. 

In the world we live in today, having strong product leadership is so critical to make sure you’re getting the experiences that drive the technical work right. You kind of have this push-pull between a product organization that is creating the vision for what the consumer needs and a very strong research and engineering culture that is bringing forth great new technology, almost that those product leaders can shop from. It’s pretty exciting. One of the changes we’ve made is to really strengthen our product organizations with a chief product officer over all of our consumer audio products. We also have someone who leads the automotive team, so moving to a functional structure but still keeping that close alignment with the customer.

Bose was started well before Silicon Valley product management had defined itself. Now Silicon Valley product management is like a cliché. It’s how every company wants to run because Google happens to be a huge rich company. I don’t mean to denigrate it. I think there is great value in having product managers, designers, and engineers all working together, but that way of working has become basically dominant since the big companies have become dominant.

It’s not the only way of working. Is that the way that you’ve adopted? Are you saying, “Okay, we’re going to do product managers and chief product officers and we’re going to have an engineering organization that works with them in cross-functional teams”? That can’t be how Bose started, because this way of working is maybe 25 years old at most.

Yeah, it is. We are definitely moving in that direction. I think what I like is that we have this really great push and pull between product and engineering. I think for some organizations, you sort of create a hierarchy and you say one of those organizations tells the other one what to do. Ours is much more of a partnership, which I think really works well for us. If you’re too product-led and you’re too focused on driving, you don’t look far enough into the future. The great thing about researchers is that they’re not thinking about tomorrow or next year. They’re thinking pretty far in the future.

You get this dynamic where we are creating a cross-functional team that has product representation, design, marketing, research, and development. It’s the diversity of thought that those different disciplines bring together, which is what we believe is really pushing our thinking on the kinds of products and experiences that we can deliver to customers. It’s not one or the other. It’s the diversity of that group and the diversity of the thinking that you bring together, which is where we create real disruptive new innovation.

Is that the change you have made as CEO? “We’re going to move to a functional structure. We’re going to build cross-functional product teams.”

It’s a piece of it, for sure.

What are the other changes you’ve made?

I think that we’re thinking about marketing very differently at Bose. The first hire I made when I joined Bose was Jim Mollica, who is our chief marketing officer. He’s actually the first chief marketing officer that Bose has ever had, which I find to be a remarkable statistic given how powerful the Bose brand is. The Bose brand was built through remarkable products and decades of high-quality audio experiences that consumers were having, either in their car or in their home, or increasingly, on the go with headphones and wearables. So marketing has changed a lot. That felt like a place where we needed to invest to bring our marketing capability to a different level. 

If you look at what we’re doing today, we are doubling down on this idea that Bose is all about sound. We talk internally about the power of sound and how transformative that can be for someone. If you think about the memories you have, they almost all have music or movies attached to them. There is something visceral about sound that connects you to a memory, like a family occasion, a date night, a dinner, or the birth of your children. The connection that sound has to our emotions is pretty powerful. 

We’ve been creating that emotional connection for people for decades. In the past, we have tended to market more around technology, innovation, and the specifications of the product. Not the specific specifications, but why technically it’s superior. I think what you see from us now is more of a shift to this emotional connection to the brand around sound and the power of sound, which we think really resonates with our customers. We’re excited about that transformation. We think we’re getting a better understanding of who the Bose customer is, why they love Bose, and how we draw in new customers to Bose who want to have that same experience over time.

I’m someone who reads a lot of advertising for audio equipment. It’s one of my favorite things. There is a cycle. Everyone markets high-fidelity sound, and then that’s taken for granted. Then what’s being marketed is, “Do you remember your first date and what song was playing?” Then another format comes out and everyone markets high-fidelity sound again. I want to talk about that dynamic and the different contexts of it. 

But I do want to get through these Decoder questions. So you’ve made some decisions, you made some changes, you’re changing how you market the products, you’re changing the structure. This is the Decoder question. How do you make decisions? You’ve had a number of different roles, you’ve been a consultant, now you’re a CEO. What’s your framework for making decisions?

It’s a really good question. It’s a hard one to answer. I think there was a moment in management history where the answer was, “Let’s just make a chart of who the decider is, and then that’s the way we’ll make great decisions. We’ll just be clear on who the decider is.” Obviously that’s important in some instances. 

What I like to focus on is maybe three things. One is getting the right people in the room. Great decisions are made when the right voices are part of the discussion that leads to the decision. Making decisions in isolation without all the right information is dangerous. I think the first part of how I make decisions and how I want the organization to make decisions is to get everybody who has a voice in the room so you hear the diversity of perspectives to inform the decision. That’s one. Get the right people in the room. 

The second is something that at Bose we’re calling informed debate. Challenge each other, use facts, call out when you don’t agree, disagree in the room. Lots of companies have ways of talking about that, “disagree and commit,” and we’ve heard them all. This idea of being willing to have the messy debate is really important. Because you can get all the right people in the room, and then if the most senior or perceived powerful person in the room starts off and states what we’re going to do, no one else actually gets a chance to voice what matters. So this idea of informed debate is really important.

Then the third is something that we talk about, which is purposeful speed. You can’t draw that out over months. Those things I just described can be done in 30 minutes or three months. We happen to participate in a market that moves pretty quickly. For us, making those decisions with purposeful speed is critically important. That is maybe a very different way of thinking about decision-making, but that’s certainly the way I operate my senior team and the way that we’re changing the culture at Bose a little bit in terms of how we make decisions.

Put that into practice for me. You show up two years ago as the new CEO. You take a look at things and say, “Okay, I have to restructure the company. We’ve gotten too siloed. There are too many different product divisions, and probably some redundancy of effort. I’m going to a functional organization.” How did you make that decision?

The same way I just described. I brought a whole bunch of thoughts. I brought a whole bunch of people into the room. I listened a lot. My leadership team worked through it to get to the decision. The group worked through it. I used the board in the same way. I think your board is an important part of informing really big changes, so certainly involve them in it. Then it’s a question of how you sequence the things that you want to change. You can’t change everything at once. What’s the right sequence?

So two more of these Decoder questions, and then I really do have a million questions about specific speakers, which is really all I want to talk about. Decoder is just a long lead-up to me making product requests. Let’s be honest.

Okay, great. As long as you love the products. I love the products, so we can talk about them all day.

Oh yeah, no, we’re going to get down into the weeds of why the buttons do what they do. Don’t worry about it. 

You mentioned you have a board, but Bose is privately held. It’s not a public company. How does that work? It is one of the few companies that has not been pushed to go public. How does that part of it work?

Yeah. It’s definitely a unique structure and one of the things that, when joining Bose, takes a minute to really understand how it works. It’s both very different and in some ways not that different. As you might know, Dr. Bose gifted shares of the company to MIT, our largest shareholder. Their shares are non-voting, so they don’t participate in the operations of the company, selecting the board, or anything like that. Therefore, the company is governed in a pretty different way because of that. 

At the same time, we have a board. The board functions pretty similarly to a public company board or a different private company board. On a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t feel different. When you really step back and think about it, it’s quite different than what’s typical, but on a day-to-day basis and in terms of interaction with the board, it’s pretty standard.

Is there any push to go public?

No. It’s actually part of the gift. Dr. Bose’s intent was to create a structure where Bose would remain private. The reason was because he wanted the company to continue to innovate and focus on research that could make people’s lives better. He wasn’t specific that it had to be audio experiences, but he was very specific about research and innovation being the purpose of the company. 

That’s really important. That grounds us. It’s really special actually, to have a purpose that’s so unique, inspiring, and different. I think he recognized that if Bose got swallowed up and became a public company, or got swallowed up by a bigger public company, that purpose would get eroded over time. He wanted to protect that. So the structure is set up so that we will remain private, and that’s pretty cool.

You mentioned also that Bose has a lot of long-range research and development work. It’s a strength of the company. You have engineers working on projects that might not come to light for several years. Any public company in the current economic climate would be shutting that down. You can actually see the big tech companies are cutting costs and doing layoffs. A lot of it is the metaverse, or Amazon made some cuts in their hardware and devices group, because that stuff isn’t going to pay off for a while and they need to focus on the present. Are you under that same pressure? Do you feel that same pressure to say, “Okay, this stuff isn’t coming true for 10 more years, we have to be focused on what will be successful right now”?

Yes and no. The beauty of our structure and being private is that we can play a longer game. We don’t have shareholders externally and investors that are looking at quarterly results in the same way. It gives us the freedom to look out a few years and say, “Look, we’re willing to sacrifice performance a little bit this year because we think this investment is critical to the future of the company.” That’s a really great luxury. 

I think theoretically that is what all companies want to be able to do. They want to be able to make purposeful investments now for the future and not have to shortcut those when the economy swings. That’s a real luxury and I don’t take that lightly. It’s important. Because it is such the core of our mission and purpose, we really think hard about the investments we’re making and making sure that we see them through. I think that’s how we’re different. 

At the same time, we have to be a viable company, so we have to make tough choices. We have to do the things that make sense because there is no long-term if you don’t take care of the short-term. We still have to manage results quarter by quarter, year by year, but we can have a little bit more of a balanced view and a more informed conversation about what’s right for Bose amongst ourselves, versus with a lot of other voices outside weighing in on that.

I imagine that long view is pretty enticing to folks when you go out to hire engineering talent. The flip side is that if you go work for one of the big tech companies or even a startup, there’s often an equity-based payday at the end of that rainbow. How do you compete with that? Do you have dividends? Do you have equity? How does that work?

I won’t go into detail on it, but we have created a comp structure that shadows that a bit. It’s never going to have the extreme upside of picking the right tech company at the right moment where the options go crazy, but it provides plenty of upside opportunities for our employees as we’re successful. So I think it works. 

The other thing I would say is that you come to work for Bose because you are passionate about what we do. That doesn’t say money isn’t important, and we certainly pay fairly, but our value proposition doesn’t start with how much money you’re going to make when you come to Bose. Our value proposition starts with you loving music, being passionate about consumer products, loving automotive and music and wanting to put those two passions together, whatever it might be. We attract talent who love the mission and the purpose of what we do here. Yes, for many of them it’s the ability to look a little bit longer, but it’s that passion first. We attract a little bit of a different vibe when you think about employees that want to come to work at Bose.

That’s great. You’re not doing Elon stuff? You’re not like, “You have to go hardcore every day or you’re out”?

No. No, we’re not.

I feel like I have to ask that question to every CEO from here out, just to be clear that not every CEO is like that. 

Let’s talk about the stuff you do. I promise we’re going to talk about products. You mentioned the three buckets. There’s noise canceling, there’s immersive audio, and there’s hearing what you want. Then inside of that there’s headphones, cars, and all these things. Let’s start with headphones. That’s what I think of Bose as right now. It is the noise-canceling headphones company. I owned a pair of QuietComfort IIs. Our own Chris Welch, who reviews headphones, says, “The Earbuds II are the best noise-canceling in-ear buds.”

Thank you.

This is where you’re at. Is that the business? Is that what makes the most money right now?

We’re much more balanced than that. It’s interesting. I think it depends on your entry point. One of the most interesting things that’s happened to me since I joined Bose is that wherever I go in the world, if I say that I work at Bose, the first thing that happens is I get a story about the first product someone had or the product they love the most. It’s awesome. The most fun part of my job is just hearing our customers talk about how exciting the products are. 

I came in with my own view, and what I have learned through all of those thousands of conversations is that your view of what Bose is depends on your entry point. For a lot of customers, Bose is a car audio company because their daily experience with Bose is in their car, where they have this amazing experience on their commute to work, maybe less often than they’ve commuted in the past.

So the entry point into Bose matters a lot. We certainly are in the headphones space, but we are really in three big spaces directly. We are in the home, with the home theater and home music experience; we are in the car, which is a very important and big part of our business as well; and then we are on the go, with headphones.

“The whole industry changed. Apple, then Samsung, then everyone else removed the headphone jack.”

Your headphone line right now, like all headphone companies, had to survive the “no more headphone jack” shock of 2016 when the whole industry changed. Apple, then Samsung, then everyone else removed the headphone jack. Your interconnect changed. Now you are wholly dependent on Bluetooth. The big companies all have proprietary riffs on Bluetooth where they get to preference their own products. Apple has the H2 chip. They have a chip, they have a stack, they have a whole UI that’s built in the operating system. Samsung has the same thing for the Galaxy Buds. Google has the same thing with Pixel Buds. How do you compete in that kind of marketplace?

I think we start with who our customers are. For us, our customer is the music lover. These wireless headphones do a lot of jobs. They’re communication devices, they’re listening devices, they do a lot of different things. Different consumers care about different features depending on their primary use case. We are very focused on the music lover and the entertainment lover. So for us, we lean in really heavily to the features that matter to those specific customers, and recognize that our competitors may have other advantages because they’re leaning into different consumer sets. 

We really focus on that noise cancellation, which creates what I think of as a clean palette. Amazing noise cancellation just creates this stage that you can build immersive lifelike audio on top of. That’s really where we want to be differentiated and we want to be the best. We focus there and recognize our competitors will focus on different things that may or may not be important to that particular customer.

What they’re focused on, pretty specifically, is making their products more convenient in a way that you cannot compete with. That is fundamental. I’ll just pick on Apple because I think everyone has a familiarity with Apple. AirPods are extraordinarily convenient. They pair with an iPhone, they pair with a Mac, they pair with your iPad. They’re pre-paired and that is all synced in the cloud. That is not technology you have access to. That is not a system-level capability you have access to. Does that seem like a blocker? I’m picking at Apple, but the other big companies are starting to do this stuff too, Google and Samsung in particular.

We are device agnostic, so you can use a Bose pair of headphones with any device. We have really strong relationships with our partners. Qualcomm is one that we talk about a lot. We are working within the parameters of where we can design and engineer, and creating the best possible experience there. We are recognizing that there may be things we can’t access in those ecosystems, but we also think we’re creating a pretty great experience on Bluetooth, even if it doesn’t have exactly the same feature set as our competitors do.

Bluetooth also has other limits. It has data rate limits, bandwidth limits, and there’s a hard limit on the audio quality that you can pass over standard Bluetooth unless the device makers implement different kinds of codecs. Qualcomm might want to do things, but Samsung, Sony, and whoever else might have wildly different ideas about what they want to do on their actual devices. Are those conversations you participate in? “Hey, in order to compete and send lossless audio to a set of Bose headphones that is targeted to the music lover, you need to change Bluetooth.” What’s your relationship there like?

It’s a complex and big ecosystem, as you know. We participate exactly as you would expect. There’s a piece about understanding and there’s a piece about influencing and we try to do all of those things. We are trying to make sure we’re creating the best experiences for our customer and we’re going to all the partners necessary to advocate for what we need to make those experiences possible.

Are you on the board of the Bluetooth SIG, the special interest group? Do you have engineers involved there? How does that work and what does that investment look like?

Yes, we do. We pick our spots. We invest in the places where we think we’re not as big as all of our competitors, so we pick our spots. We invest and focus on the industry groups and the spaces where we think it’ll have the biggest impact on our vision of where our products are going.

Do you perceive a hard limit on what you’re able to do with headphones, particularly because of the reality of mobile devices?

No. I think we are imagining where we can innovate. There may be hard limits on some things, but those will change too. This ecosystem evolves quickly, so we are continuing to look at the places where we can innovate and differentiate and move in those directions and make sure we’re creating our place in the rest of the ecosystem.

The reason I asked so directly is because there are lots of headphone companies that were effectively wiped out when the physical interconnected, the headphone jack, went away. They just became commodity Bluetooth headphone suppliers. They were buying the pieces off the shelf and all they were left with was branding. That might have been all they had before, but now the products are more expensive and people can perceive flakier commodity Bluetooth radios failing at a higher rate. So there’s just a part here where the self-preferencing of the mobile device makers represents an existential threat to the business for you.

For some headphone makers, simply removing the physical open interconnect was an existential risk and they’re dead now. Obviously Bose has much more investment in technology. You are probably building better Bluetooth hardware than the other headphone makers. You have a brand. But at the end of some road, there is another existential moment if the platform vendors self-preference too much. Is that something you’re on the lookout for?

Look, risks exist everywhere. It’s interesting. You can’t live without the Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s not what makes the device special. Our ability is to continue to innovate and drive new, better, and differentiated experiences. We’re focusing on those areas because we think customers really care about those. We’re looking out for all those threats that you described and it’s why it’s really important that we are not a single thing. We’re not just about headphones, we’re not just about the car. We have a diverse portfolio which allows us to weather through some of those threats as they arise.

Do your headphones mostly connect to mobile devices?

Phones, for sure. I mean, if you just think about your own usage and what you see on the street, an earbud is predominantly a phone-connected device. The conversation we’re having is that more work is happening over phones and more entertainment is being consumed on laptops and tablets. There’s connectivity to all of those devices that are happening pretty regularly, actually. So yes, the phone is the dominant, but it’s certainly not the only one.

Do you ever go to Apple or Google, and say, “Look, our headphones sound great, and they are targeted at music lovers. We could support lossless audio tomorrow if you implement this codec, whatever it is. Can you do it for us?” Is that a conversation that’s happening? It seems like they’re very resistant to it, because that is something that they could enable for their own products and not everybody else.

We have conversations with everyone in the ecosystem about what we could do together to make the experience better.

Do you think those conversations are fruitful?

In some cases, yes, but not all.

Give an example of where it’s fruitful.

I think we’re doing a lot with Qualcomm now. I won’t talk about the specifics, but we’re partnering in a deeper way with Qualcomm. They have a focus on sound with their Snapdragon platform, and we think that brings a lot of possibilities. We work with them at the engineer-to-engineer level very early in the process to talk about the vision of what we want to bring to the market. They certainly are creating a lot for everyone to use, but we talk to them early enough to help make sure the unique experiences we want to be able to deliver, we will be able to deliver through their silicon. That is a good example of a partnership which is really strong, and one that we think allows us to innovate in new and different ways.

Is that open interconnect with the Qualcomm stuff or is that going to be proprietary to Bose?

Yes. Could be either.

Do you have a point of view on it, or did you just sign a partnership and we have to see what happens?

I think it’s going to evolve. I know you wanted to get back to hearing, so maybe this will be a good segue to that. If you think about our strategy in general, we are looking at new and different ways to partner at Bose. It’s probably one of the things that historically there has been less of than you might have imagined, and we’re looking to do more partnerships going forward. 

I think the hearing space is an instructive one to talk about, because Bose was involved early on in the over-the-counter regulation conversations, trying to influence in the US those regulations getting put in place. The company believes strongly that access and affordability were issues in hearing loss and that it was important to create a new environment where consumers, people, could have more access and more affordability in the hearing aid market. 

We have been investing in hearing aid technology for quite some years. It’s one of those long-term research projects that started well before I got here, and one of the things that we realized was that being a full-scale health company probably didn’t make sense for Bose. Instead, we still want to participate in the hearing aid space because we think our technology is unique and differentiated, but we are going to do that with partners. You saw our partnership with Lexie Hearing to bring a hearing aid to market with them, powered by Bose. Their B1 and B2 hearing aids are both powered by Bose, but Lexie has the expertise that Bose doesn’t necessarily have around commercializing a medical or health device. 

FDA regulations, and being in the space of insurance, payers, and providers, is not a space that Bose has lived in. Rather than building all of that capability internally, we are going to feed our technology into their products to allow great technology to get in the hands of customers, but in a more effective way. I think that’s a great example of thinking about partnerships differently, and how we can use them at Bose to drive technology in those franchise areas that I talked about into different use cases that we may not have done on our own.

The hearing aid category is really fascinating. The bill passed in August to enable over-the-counter hearing aids to be sold to regular people. It has always seemed like a pair of headphones in transparency mode is basically a hearing aid anyway. The industry has talked a lot about augmented reality and wearables, and all of that seems to be converging in different ways.

But like you said, hearing aids themselves are still a health product. The FDA and insurance carriers are involved. There is a long road between you having the idea and getting to an actual customer. You’re saying that instead of figuring that out for yourself, you are going to partner with another company that already has the expertise?

That’s right. The important thing is that hearing augmentation is a continuum. If you have moderate hearing loss, a consumer device is not going to solve your problem. You’re going to need a hearing aid. The difference between a headphone and hearing aid is pretty dramatic, and it’s largely around power consumption and battery length. The hearing aid is not optional. If you need a hearing aid, it actually needs to work for 12 to 15 hours so that you can charge it while you’re sleeping. You can’t charge it in the middle of your day. You need it to last through the day. 

The ability to get great audio at low power consumption is a problem that hasn’t yet been solved exactly. Hearing aids have always had a slightly different capability set because of that need of low power consumption and all-day use. I think if you have mild hearing loss and are earlier in that journey, there are a lot of things consumer products can do that can help you as you make the transition to eventually needing a hearing aid. 

If you think about the “hear what you want” concept that we talked about before, that’s a great place for an earbud, for example. You’re in a noisy cafe or restaurant with family and friends and it’s loud. Even if you’re not someone who needs a hearing aid — I certainly fall into this category — at a loud restaurant or bar, I could use the person I’m talking to being a little bit augmented and everything else being turned down a couple of notches in terms of volume. Those are early hearing needs — I wouldn’t call them issues — on this spectrum of needing a little bit of help. It’s like the reading glasses equivalent. I don’t need it all the time, but occasionally I might put those reading glasses on. This is a similar concept. You can imagine those things coming into more of a consumer device. 

The issue that I think no one has solved yet is social cues. If I’m wearing a pair of headphones, even if I could create what I just described using AI, this experience where I hear your voice across the table but not the rest of the restaurant, I’m still sending a social cue that says, “I have on a pair of headphones. I don’t want to talk to you.”

We have spent 20 years teaching the world that when I have banded headphones or earbuds in, “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to talk to you on the plane. I don’t want to talk to you on the subway. I don’t want to talk to you on the street.” I certainly would feel rude wearing them in a restaurant when I’m sitting across the table from you. So over time, we have to solve that social cue. As the person wearing the headphones, I probably don’t want to tell you I have a little bit of a hearing challenge, which would then make the social cue okay, but probably makes me feel uncomfortable. There’s still a lot of learning to do around the social cues and the stigma aspect that hasn’t yet been solved.

The biggest issue that keeps people from getting a little bit of help with their hearing is the stigma of it. We have to do more work on technology to figure out how to help people solve that.

In all of our research, that is actually the biggest issue that keeps people from getting a little bit of help with their hearing — the stigma of it. The over-the-counter regulations don’t immediately solve that. We have to do more work on technology to figure out how to help people solve that.

That’s fascinating because that doesn’t seem like an engineering problem. That seems like a cultural problem or a product marketing problem.

It’s a bit of a design problem.

A design problem. That’s a really interesting way of thinking about it. How are you organized around solving that problem?

One of the advantages of bringing our research and development teams together, as we talked about before, is that you are sort of mashing together the people who are really researching hearing health technology and the kind of technology that we think can drive that forward. They are now sitting together virtually or physically with the folks that are creating earbuds, and they’re having different conversations about how we bring those technologies together, which is fascinating.

One of the things I’m excited about, when you think about hearing health and some of the stigma issues that we talked about, is some of the open-ear technology that we’ve been working on at Bose, and how open-ear technology may start to solve some of these challenges about social cues and the ability to bring hearing health into more of a consumer device. By open-ear audio, I mean the audio experience created by the Bose Frames as an example.

Those are the sunglasses?

The audio sunglasses, yeah.

We were looking at your website before the show and the sunglasses are in the nav bar. I know that everyone is excited about sunglasses with speakers in them, but they’re in the nav. Is that just to signal this is important to you? Are you selling a lot of them? What’s going on there?

I would think about open-ear audio as in the experimentation stage.

We’ve had Frames, and we had the Sport Open Earbuds. There was an earlier product that we had, which you kind of wore around your neck and it created an open-ear experience. What we found is that there are very passionate fans of these products. There are people for whom these are really important. I think of it as a technology that is still evolving, and we are kind of figuring out the benefits of that open-ear technology and how we help create form factors that make sense for consumers. That is something that we’re actively researching and looking at. 

There’s something about transparency. Not just transparency mode where I have something stuffed in my ear and I’m able to hear, but actually having transparency and the ability to have an audio experience. There’s something magical there and we’re continuing to experiment. People who love Frames will tell you that that is the experience. They love the audio sunglasses. But there are a lot of other ideas there that we’re exploring.

I don’t want to sound rude, but usually when I hear a CEO say, “Some people love them and there’s something there,” that translates to, “We haven’t sold a whole lot of them.” Have you sold a whole lot of them?

We have, but it’s early. I think the Frames are a great exploration, people love them, and we’re continuing to look for what might be a better solution down the road.

When I think about computers, which I obviously think about a lot, one of the things that happens with computers, especially mobile ones, is that you have to care for them. A cell phone is a remarkably needy object in our lives. You have to pay a service fee to give it connectivity, the battery is always dying, you can’t drop it. One of the reasons most wearables fail is the cost is very high. You have to have it on your body all the time, the batteries are small, and it’s still a computer. Then the value that they give back to you is usually very low. They do one thing.

Sunglasses with speakers, they kind of do one thing. They play music at you when there is music, but otherwise you’re just wearing some sunglasses and hopefully they are cool enough for you to wear all the time. Do you think that value equation has to change dramatically?

If you think about what earbuds do today versus what they did five, seven, 10 years ago, even when they were wired, the jobs that they’re doing are increasing. Part of that is all the dimensions that you said, with longer battery life, higher compute, and the ability to do more jobs. The value changes over time as you’re able to create more value in them. So if you think about the Frames, today they play music, but down the road, they could do other things as well. It’s how those things evolve to create value.

Earbuds do so many more jobs today versus what they did five, seven, 10 years ago.

Ultimately, that is always what we’re doing in a consumer business. You have to create products that have enough value for the consumer that they want to pay for what it costs to make them and make a little bit of money on the back end of that. We’re always thinking about that customer value equation, and wrestling with the minute details. This one thing that we’re adding, is that cost worth it to the customer? If it’s not, we shouldn’t put it in. It’s not creating value. We think about that question in the macro, but also in the micro decisions that we’re making as we’re bringing products to market.

The other side of this, especially for consumer products, is that as you layer more and more software into a product, you layer more and more recurring costs. You have to keep the software updated, you have to run some cloud servers for whatever back-end thing is happening, you have to update the app for iOS 25 or whatever is going to come out to make sure that the functionality in the user interface is still there.

Are you thinking about recurring revenue, like subscription headphones? Most companies have solved that cost problem by saying, “We’re actually going to pass the cost on to you. We’ll deliver more features to you over time, but now you have to pay $5 or $25 a month or whatever.” Headphones for the most part have not started doing that. But as you add more software and more capability — particularly more AI capability — you are going to have to run a bunch of servers and pay for people to use the products. How do you solve that problem?

It’s a great question, and it’s one that is here today. We are already doing a lot of the things that you just described — over-the-year updates, backward compatibility, new iOS, all of that stuff. That has been the change that has been ongoing over the last several years. It’s certainly something that we talk about and we think about. 

You have to have the customer value to create that ongoing model. What is that going to be? We certainly have a lot of ideas, and we’re thinking about it and testing it. You see it now starting to happen in automotive. It’s interesting there as well. Are there features and functionality that maybe not everybody wants or needs, but is highly valuable to some? Can we deliver that in an over-the-year capability that could lead to a subscription model? We’re for sure thinking about that.

I think you’re making a specific reference to BMW, which is rolling out some capabilities of subscription. I would describe it, frankly, as an uproar over the idea that you would pay $18 a month for heated seats. You can definitely go too far. What’s too far for you?

I don’t think we know yet. We haven’t done those experiments yet. You have to put something out there like BMW is doing and see what resonates. I think that this is a test-and-learn situation. Sometimes the things that you imagine are going to create value, and that customers are really going to want to pay extra for, don’t turn out to be the things. Other things that you never would have thought about might be . Ultimately, this will end up being a test-and-learn situation for most companies, including us, to understand what consumers get real value out of and how we think about bringing that to market. There is a long road in front of us to figure this out, and I think it’s going to take a little bit of evolution to get there.

This is a good time to talk about cars. You mentioned that cars are a big place for Bose plays. It might be where people have the most experience with Bose in some ways. You’re in GM cars, and you’re in Honda cars. I always think of these deals as brand licensing deals. Automakers need a fancy brand inside the car, so someone will sell them a logo and that’s it. Is that what you’re doing? Or do you do more?

That is absolutely not what we’re doing. You will never see a Bose logo in a car that is not a sound system that we didn’t create. It’s funny. Twice a year our research team in automotive does a really big show-and-tell of the research that’s happening. I was down there this morning, and it’s just amazing what our teams are creating. Every Bose sound system in a car is uniquely designed for that car. 

The great thing about automotive is you have a known set of dimensions and fixed passengers. Living rooms are complicated because they’re all different sizes, people sit in different places, and you can never really predict that. The great thing about a car is we know the dimensions of that particular vehicle and we know exactly where people are going to sit.

There’s a ton of research and work that our team does to create these amazing sound experiences based on that geometry of the car, based on how many speakers that the team has decided to put in the car, and the tuning of that car to have this perfect system coming off of the assembly line. We are doing a ton of work. We’re a tier-one supplier, so we’re working directly with our automotive partners to design, develop, and then launch those products into market. It is a very deep partnership with a lot of innovation inside of it.

As I look across the auto industry, these deals are everywhere. I have a Ford with a Bang & Olufsen system. A friend has a Mercedes with a Burmester system. Jeep has McIntosh system. Harman Kardon has a huge business here. They’re everywhere. How do you go and make the sale? What does that pitch look like?

It’s probably important to mention that Dr. Bose and Bose also invented this category. Forty years ago in a Cadillac was the first time there was a premium audio system in a car. You can probably remember back to the time where you went to the car audio store, bought all the components, and then retrofitted a nice audio system into your car.

Oh, I was that teenager completely.

I got the sense, yeah.

I just got burned on my own show. I have to recover now.

I love those people. You are our people. That’s awesome. That changed 40 years ago, right? Cadillac and Dr. Bose got together and said, “Okay, why are we making consumers do this in the aftermarket? Why don’t we just create something that’s designed for this really special car?” That sort of launched this market. When we go talk to our OEM partners, we compete on technology, and we compete on how it sounds and the innovation. There are so many new and different things that you can do now with technology in the car. It’s really changing rapidly.  Think about bringing Dolby Atmos experiences into cars and how that’s happening. 

We’re also taking noise cancellation into the car. There’s another aspect now, which is not just the audio system. Particularly with electric vehicles becoming more and more prevalent, suddenly without an internal combustion engine, all the other sounds in the car come to life. You realize just how loud the tires on the road are, just how loud the wind noise is, or how loud the HVAC system in the car is. We have taken our noise cancellation expertise and brought it to the car. We are talking about implementing road noise control systems with cars, the ability to take out that annoying road noise sound, and so many other things in this area of active sound management. How do we take away the offensive sounds in the car? 

A quiet cabin is a more luxurious cabin. For our purposes, a quiet cabin allows you to really experience that lifelike audio. We see them as the yin and yang together. Just like we would say in a headphone, you need that great noise cancellation to create the palette for the audio. We talk about technology and we demonstrate things that are near in and far out. We get a lot of great feedback from our OEM partners, and that allows us to focus on the right innovation that we then drive forward.

What grows that business and on what cadence? Is it that every five years Volkswagen Group is going to reopen the audio contract so there’s a bunch of RFPs, and you go out and do it? Or is it layering more and more technology into the car so the revenue per vehicle is going up?

It’s probably both. Automakers are always thinking about how to create better and different value propositions. Just like any B2B business, we’re constantly talking to folks in the market about what we’re doing, what they’re looking for, who their customer is, and finding these great opportunities to partner. We think there is a lot of opportunity in this space and we’re certainly out there going after it. As I said, we also see new applications of our technology in the car that create opportunities for new revenue streams, like active sound management that I described before. So it’s a bit of both.

The single most common cliché on Decoder might be when car CEOs come on the show and tell me that cars are computers now. We even did a clip show about it. You’ve now described a lot of the capabilities Bose has because compute is more powerful and cheaper, it is more battery efficient, and you can move it closer to the user. As that’s happening in a car, they’re consolidating the compute in the car. That’s the big trend. They have gone from 95 different supplier-provided computers to maybe one or two, and they’re all picking different platforms. Do you have to make your technology work on all of their platforms? Have you thought about growing into being a platform provider like that? What’s the future there?

That evolution is alive and well, as you know. It’s happening. We’re seeing an incredible transformation in the automotive space, and we’re certainly right in the middle of all of that. We are very clear on what we do, and we’re very clear on how that’s been delivered in the past. Every OEM is moving at a different pace to this new world of up integration, where the compute is more centralized, as you have described. The pacing of it is different. The challenge for us is just making sure that we are building for the future and can support them along the way. It does mean we need to be flexible and we need to be able to adjust. We’re building our software on our own platforms, and being able to port those platforms into a variety of scenarios that are sure to evolve with our OEM partners is part of what we’re focused on doing.

To bring that to life for the listener, I’ll pick on my own garage. I have a Ford that runs QNX, which is horrible. They have threatened to go to Android, but who knows when it’s going to happen, so it’s running QNX by Blackberry. We have a Jeep that’s running not Google’s Android, but a forked version of Android with Amazon integrations on top of it. Those are radically different platforms with radically different chip sets. You’re not in either of those cars, but if you wanted to go get that business and say, “We’re going to run active sound cancellation in these cars,” do you have to port them to those platforms? Or do you put a different box in the car entirely?

Yes. In some cases, we’re porting into those systems, and you have to do that differently. In some cases, they’re not that consolidated yet. It could be our own amplifier, it could be a competitive compute box, or it could be something that you just described. Every flavor you could imagine exists right now. I think we know, just based on how other markets have evolved over time, that this will consolidate down the road. Between here and there, being agile and nimble and able to work across different platforms is the key to success, and that’s what we’re focused on.

Do you find that complexity reduces your ability to innovate?

I think it forces you to innovate how you build, to make it as easy as possible to connect in. The way that we architect our solutions, the more that we can create that is common, the connection porting into those systems becomes a pipe, but not a complete rebuild. That’s the key. It’s an architecture solution, and a forward thinking about how you build that architecture where the magic is.

I have to ask you once again about platform vendors. I feel like I keep asking you about this. Google is really aggressive in the auto space. More and more people are moving to Android Auto or forking Android, like in the case of Stellantis. Do you see that as the thing you need to spend the most energy on, or are you saying there’s going to be a thousand different platforms and you’re going to be everywhere?

I think we’re looking across all the possibilities. Remember, it’s a whole stack. It’s not just the Android piece at the top. There’s the chip set and the stack that sits underneath that. We’re looking at that entire ecosystem. We are in active conversations across those that we think are going to matter the most. Like everyone else, we are going to have to place a few bets and be as agile as possible in the transition.

I want to end by asking about spatial audio, which you have brought up in the context of the car and Atmos in the car. It’s also the big thing in the home, and people are trying to make it a thing on headphones. We just had Steve Boom from Amazon on the show. He’s very excited that Amazon supports spatial audio — Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. There are lots of formats, and the music industry is excited about it because they get to re-up a bunch of deals. Do you think it sounds good?

I think that what I hear in our R&D lab sounds amazing. We are committed to bringing a product to the market when we think it is a Bose-worthy experience. I think that there is a ton of potential for spatial audio, particularly when you think about headphones. We’re already seeing it in home theater and home audio, of course. I think it’s a little bit different there. When you think about the headphones space and the ability to have it on the go with you, we see a ton of potential. We also think the experience has to be of a level where the consumer appreciates why it’s special, and we’re building toward that.

The reason I ask is because almost at the very beginning of the show, you talked about changing the marketing of Bose and going away from tech specs to experiences. Spatial audio is one of those tech specs that rolls out. We’re all going to market the tech spec, and we’re going to talk about channels of audio, height channels, and all the stuff that we’re going to do with spatial. Then it’s going to become a commodity and people are going to either notice it or not notice it.

We’re going to go back to, “Do you remember when you had your first kiss? This song was playing.” That is the dynamic in the industry. It always has been. Do you think spatial is enough of a thing to market to people? Do you think people care enough? The other stuff like lossless has not been that.

It’s interesting, actually. I think in some ways the industry latches onto these words, and consumers don’t actually necessarily know what the words mean, but you have to have it. I’m going to use Atmos at the moment as an example of that. No one right now wants to buy a soundbar that doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, which, I get it. I totally understand. But if you actually think about the content that you’re consuming, I think right now it’s under 5 percent of the content. I could be off by a percentage point or two, but under 5 percent of the content that is actually getting delivered to consumers is Atmos content. 

It’s a combination. We haven’t made all the content in Atmos yet, but it’s moreso about the configuration. You have to have the right TV and the right cabling and the right setup in order for the Atmos content to actually reach your ears.

“Sometimes we get enamored with an idea like Dolby Atmos, where everyone has to have it, even though they’re not quite sure what it is or what they’re getting.”

Sometimes we get enamored with an idea like Dolby Atmos, where everyone has to have it, even though they’re not quite sure what it is or what they’re getting. For us at Bose, we thought about that problem a lot and we said, “Look, we’ve created something we call TrueSpace, which allows you on the 95 percent or so of content that’s not coming through as Atmos to your ears. We’ve created an algorithm that allows you to have that spatial audio and Atmos experience, even if the content isn’t Atmos.” What we don’t want is consumers to buy a Bose soundbar that is made for Dolby Atmos, and then sit in their house and think, “I don’t hear it. I don’t get it.” So then they think, “Okay, well this isn’t a very good soundbar.” The reality is that the content is not. So we’re creating an Atmos experience even if the content isn’t that. 

I think it’s a good example of where consumers latch onto a tech spec or tech speak, and they may or may not actually know what that means or what it is. I think spatial audio is similar. I think it’s a term that the industry uses, but average consumers don’t quite understand what that means. I actually think a lot of companies that use the term mean different things. Part of our challenge is going to be as we bring those products to market, how do we talk about them in a way that we’re talking about what the experience actually is, not what the buzzword is?

There’s a little bit of a brewing format war here between Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio, and whatever else. Do you participate in those format wars, or do you just say you’re going to support everything?

I think we need to support the content that our consumers want to listen to. We’re thinking about the experience that the customer wants and making sure that we’re able to create that.

Well, just for the record, I think spatial audio is very silly. I think it’s great for movies, but I’ve never really understood what’s going on with music in spatial audio. But I’m curious if you think that is going to have an effect on the music industry the way that the people who are very excited about it do?

It’s interesting. I think there are some consumers that may never take to it. It just may not sound right to them. They may not like it. But others are going to love it. It’s one of those things that may be a little bit polarizing. We probably don’t know yet, because it’s going to get interesting when the creators start creating music in a spatialized format. Whenever you take something that was recorded in one way and then change its format, that’s great. But you really get the shift in the experience when the creators themselves are creating the content, the music, in that format. 

You certainly see that with movies. Movies that are created with Atmos are a different experience than those that are rendered that way in backward compatibility. I think the jury is still out, but we’re excited about the experiences. It will always hinge on whether the content created is exciting enough to get someone who’s a skeptic like you to give it a try.

See, I could do another whole hour on movies and in the home and your soundbar line. I think that means this is a good place to wrap up.

I’m happy to come back.

Lila, thanks so much. What’s next for Bose?

I think that we’re in a really exciting place. We talk about sound and great sound being at risk. We used to sit in a controlled environment like our home or our car to listen to music or watch movies. Now we’re taking in content of all different formats, some recorded on your phone in a quick video and some very professionally created, and we’re consuming that content in all sorts of harsh environments. We’re going to continue to innovate in these spaces around taking out the noises you don’t want to hear; creating great, immersive, lifelike audio experiences; and playing with AI and helping you manage your environment with hearing the things that you want. There’s a lot of exciting potential in that space, and I think there’s going to be a lot of cool stuff coming from Bose.

That’s awesome. Well, we will have to have you back for a full hour on Atmos in the home. My Vergecast listeners will know how excited I am about that. This was great. Thank you so much, Lila.

Great. Thank you so much.

Decoder with Nilay Patel /

A podcast from The Verge about big ideas and other problems.


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