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When most people in China hear the name Meizu, they probably think: smartphones. That is, after all, what the company has been known for since the early days of Xiaomi (when the two companies actually got into a bit of a spat). But before the smartphone era, Meizu was known for music, making MP3 players and portable video players. And interestingly, it is to that musical history that Meizu is turning to launch its first product in the US.

That product: the Gravity wireless speaker, which is being made available to the US market via an Indiegogo campaign. It costs US$199. Behold it:

Gravity_02

As you’ve probably noticed, the most striking thing about the speaker is its unique design. The transparent, off-center prism that serves as the speaker’s base also doubles as the unit’s display. That’s where it gets interesting: the display is not a screen, and it becomes fully transparent when deactivated. Meizu says this required creating a new type of coating the company is calling a “half-mirror.” The idea is that when the display off, the transparent base will make the speaker appear to be floating.

Gravity_05

Of course, even the most beautiful wireless speaker in the world is pretty useless if it sounds like crap, and getting small speakers to sound good isn’t easy. Meizu says that by working with the audio experts at Dirac, its team has produced a speaker with excellent sound quality. Until we’ve had the chance to hear one for ourselves, we’ll have to take their word for it.

Coming to America

This will be Meizu’s first product to launch in the US, and the first product the company is marketing simultaneously to the US and China. So why the US, and why a speaker?

Gravity_life_01

One reason, a Meizu rep told Tech in Asia, is that Meizu still has music in its DNA from the MP3 era. The company seems to be hoping that the Gravity may strike a kind of nostalgic chord in China. But, the rep noted, lots of famous and name-brand wireless speakers haven’t sold well in China. The US seems to be a friendlier market for these sorts of devices.

Of course, that means competition. “People here [in the US] have a lot of choices, so that makes our launch a big challenge,” the Meizu rep told me. But, she pointed out, Meizu built the Gravity with the help of famed Japanese designer Kosho Tsuboi, and is manufacturing the speaker with a company that also produces speakers for Bose, JBL, and more. The company is confident that at least in terms of quality, it’s ready to compete with the name-brands on sale in the US.

Plus, the she told me, “it has to be done.” Meizu is aiming to “create a new audio brand and product line that is not just focused on the Chinese market, but is aimed globally.”

The company may not have much brand recognition in the US, but everybody has to start somewhere. For Meizu, that somewhere is apparently a funky-looking speaker and a campaign on Indiegogo. Whether that’ll be enough to impress American consumers remains to be seen.

This post Xiaomi competitor launches in the US with a weird, gravity-defying wireless speaker appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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