Demant—the Danish parent group of Oticon, Bernafon, Sonic, and several leading hearing healthcare brands—has launched EPOS, a new high-end audio solutions company that will develop and manufacture headsets used by businesses and gamers. Previously, Demant had been a 50/50 partner with Sennheiser Communications in manufacturing and distributing products. Going forward, EPOS will be an independent company developing products for the Enterprise Solutions (also referred to as “Call Center and Office” or CC&O) and Gaming headsets markets, while Sennheiser will concentrate on the Mobile Music market. In the shorter-term, EPOS will manufacture and sell the existing Sennheiser portfolio co-branded as EPOS/SENNHEISER products, while introducing the new EPOS branded portfolio.
In September 2018, Demant and Sennheiser announced that their two companies would be pursuing separate segments within the three key areas of the lucrative headset market, with Demant focusing on the Enterprise Solutions and Gaming headsets and Sennheiser focusing on Mobile Music headsets. The two companies had been tied together in a 50/50 ownership agreement that had lasted over 15 years, and the end of that joint venture is said to take place via a cash free split of ownership structure and a formal separation in January 2020. They stated that this parting was in good faith with the intention to continue cooperation where synergies and opportunities exist. Citing the R&D capabilities of intelligent audio, low power connectivity, and small form factors, Demant President and CEO Søren Nielsen said that R&D synergies within the Demant Group will make for an even stronger product portfolio.
EPOS will build and draw on the more than 115 years of experience of working with innovation and sound, says Demant. The company’s stated goal is to “take excellent sound experience for enterprises and gamers to the next level”—with the clear purpose to help individuals, as well as teams across the globe, achieve their full potential through the power of audio.
“The establishment of EPOS marks the start of a new independent company specializing in audio solutions with a premium sound experience,” says Nielsen. “We are very happy to have EPOS and the strong competencies in the company as an integrated part of the Demant family. We are certain that the R&D synergies within the Demant Group will become even stronger going forward with the emerging trend of intelligent audio, low power connectivity, and small form factors. I believe that EPOS, in the future, will play an important part in creating audio experiences to meet the unique needs of its customers,” says Nielsen.
“We are certain that the R&D synergies within the Demant Group will become even stronger going forward with the emerging trend of intelligent audio, low power connectivity, and small form factors.” — Søren Nielsen
Demant will be competing in the growing Enterprise headset market, which is led by GN and its Jabra brand and Poly/Plantronics—two other major groups with ties to the hearing healthcare field—as well as companies like Logitech and Avaya. The global Enterprise segment is estimated by Frost and Sullivan to exceed $1.4 billion with growth of 8% per year through 2022, outpacing global hearing aid unit growth (about 5%). Last year, GN Audio reported 21% organic revenue growth and 26% growth in EBITA with significant growth in the CC&O segment, driven by its wireless Jabra Elite family. In fact, within the last several years, GN’s Audio division has grown to a point where its revenues are close to rivaling its Hearing division.
According to hearing industry analyst Niels Leth of Carnegie Research, Demant will reportedly delay entering the faster growing but less profitable consumer headset Gaming market, which GN does not compete in, until later.
Sennheiser Enterprise Solutions salespeople from around the world will reportedly transfer to the newly established EPOS. According to the company, all competency teams for Enterprise Solutions and Gaming in the headquarters in Denmark will ultimately transfer to EPOS, which will still be located in Ballerup, Denmark, near Oticon’s corporate headquarters.
The name, EPOS, derives from Latin and ancient Greek and is used to describe epic stories, speech, and poetry.