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A new headset collaboration between Santa Cruz surf-company O’Neill and audio giant Royal Philips Electronics, introduced to U.S. consumers this week, aims to make the world sound a little better for the surf and snowboard set.
The colorful co-marketed headsets, which were introduced at tradeshows in Amsterdam and San Diego in August and in Berlin earlier this month, is the result of about a year of collaborative design, according to Bret Muhlitner, O’Neill spokesman. The new line includes four sweat and rain-resistant headsets billed as flexible and durable enough to wear for long hours and on cold days of snowboarding.
“Philips came to us,” Muhlitner said “Ultimately, we thought the collaboration was a good idea. They were the leader in audio and we’re the leaders in wetsuits. We’re marketing to the same people.” Companies like Skullcandy “have done a really good job of combining actions sports and music together.”
The Philips O’Neill product line includes two over-ear styles: The Stretch $99.99 and The flat-folding Snug $59.99; and two earbud styles: The Covert $49.99 and The Specked $29.99. All are said to have been “tested by animals,” a marketing euphemism for O’Neill’s sponsored athletes: big-wave rider Mark Mathews, nine-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year Jeremy Jones and two-time Freeride World Tour champion Ane Enderud.
After launching in Berlin at the IFA, the world’s largest trade fair for consumer electronics and home appliances, the headphones will be showcased next month during the local Cold Water Classic and on the premier tour of Jones’ snowboarding movie “Deeper” where guests at the shows in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and New York City will get to use them.
“This range realizes the synergies of Philips’ simplicity and innovation and O’Neill’s set of core values based around the concept of innovation in style and technology,” said Nick Andrews, of Philips, a nearly $29.65 billion company that makes everything from light bulbs and shaving gear to electronics and cardiac products. The company just launched an eight-week comedy series on YouTube to promote its latest iPad accessories, a solar rechargeable power pack and headphones. Founded in 1891, Philips has been making headphones for 50 years.
O’Neill, a 58-year-old company founded by Jack O’Neill, who cobbled together the first thick rubbery wetsuits to protect surfers from the Pacific Ocean chill, has long since broadened its scope of lifestyle products aimed at the active youth market.
O’Neill’s annual sales were $175 million in 2008 and the company controlled at least half the global wetsuit market and had factories in San Francisco, Mexico and Asia, according to Transworld Surf, a sports industry publisher.
This article first appeared here.