Samsung is buying the company we might think of as Harman Kardan for $8 billion. That includes AKG Audio and JBL Audio, two of the best names in hi end audio. Those Quincy Jones headphones I love so much go with the sale, as do the AKG N60 Noise Cancelers that you can’t travel without.
Harman is an American company founded by the late Sidney Harman. You may recall that Sidney bought Newsweek before he died, and Tina Brown edited it. Then Sidney, who was 92, died (what a surprise!), and his family sold Newsweek to Barry Diller for a dollar and a dream. Sidney’s widow, Jane, was a U.S. congresswoman.
Eight billion dollars doesn’t sound like much for all those brands. Harman includes a lot of high end audio for home use. The issue here is that millenials don’t know from stereo systems. They plop an iPhone or maybe an iPod into a Bluetooth speaker, and voila! Luckily, JBL makes really great Bluetooth speakers. The other thing Harman makes is headphones, and they are quite good. The AKG line has gotten better and better. (I rely on them as much as I do Grado.)
Samsung is more interested in auto connectivity, as cars become more and more computerized. Harman has been developing that end for years. I just hope the AKG Harman quality won’t suffer but I think Samsung will realize that’s very important.