It is no coincidence that the JBL PowerUp speaker, with NFC and wireless charging, is the perfect companion for Nokia’s new Lumia 920 smartphone.
Neither is it a matter of luck that the speaker and the smartphone both share a similar design language and colour aesthetic.
The speaker is, in fact, the result of Nokia’s technical innovation in smartphones and design heritage combined with JBL’s audio expertise.
The JBL PowerUp is joined in the line up with the JBL PlayUp speaker, a portable and wireless speaker that is also Bluetooth and NFC-enabled.
Together, these two speakers offer Nokia Lumia owners a seamless choice of audio accessories that they know will not only sound great and look fantastic, but also work alongside their smartphones as well.
Partners in sound
Lasse Lautsuo, Head of Gear product marketing at Nokia, told Conversations about the seeds of the relationship with JBL.
“We learnt as we worked with Monster [on a range of headphones] that we can create different and interesting products with brands that consumers appreciate but in areas that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Nokia,” says Lasse.
Nokia wanted to work with a company to create new and exciting audio products and JBL was a perfect fit.
“JBL had the combination of being a cool and youthful brand but they also had the heritage of audio expertise in high end speakers for public and professional use.”
“So after we had launched the Monster partnership it was logical from the music side to start making better speakers.”
The speakers were made in close collaboration between the two companies, however they clearly follow Nokia’s design story.
Nokia was also able to embed much of the functionality, such as the ability to charge your Lumia 920 or Lumia 820 (with the recharging shell) on the PowerUp speaker without the need for any wires. You just place it on top.
JBL’s role was to manufacture the speakers, with their knowledge of the best components and make them sound as good as possible.
So, although it is not branded as a Nokia product on the box, much of the design work, including the design language and colours, is very much of Nokia’s choosing.
“We wanted to continue to bring out products that capture the eye,” says Lasse.
“We cherish the colour range that the Nokia Lumia has for the phones as well as the accessories.”
Nokia fans will probably recognise that the PlayUp speaker shares much of its DNA with the Nokia Play 360 speaker. This has been made from double-shot plastic, which gives the body durability, a two-tone look and the transparency of the outer layer helps to maximise the colour effect.
As you would expect of any product that is associated with Nokia, they look great and have a fantastic feel to them.
Offering consumer choice
Although Nokia has got this successful partnership with JBL, and several others, such as Monster and Virgin Atlantic, they would still welcome other manufacturers to join in as well.
“I am sure that all of us in the Windows Phone ecosystem would be really happy to see a vibrant ecosystem where we see various brands making different accessories,” says Lasse.
After all, with NFC and the Qi wireless charging standard, it is not just Nokia smartphones that can take advantage of these beautiful speakers.
By going with JBL, though, Nokia has ensured that there are accessories available already and also demonstrated that there is still the scope to re-imagine something as common as a speaker.
“We want the accessories to show the consumers and other companies that you can really innovate and differentiate.”
“I believe we have done that with the wireless charging integrated into a more traditional accessory like a speaker or something cool like the proximity sensor that lights up when the device lands on it.”
For now, though Nokia can celebrate the fact that using their mobile expertise and design flair they have worked with JBL to produce two speakers that are worthy of the Lumia smartphones.