Devialet unveils an ambitious new speaker

Devialet unveils an ambitious new speaker
French speaker maker Devialet is arguably manufacturing some of the best sounding all-in-one speakers on the market, but they’ve always been too expensive for the average customer. With the Phantom Reactor, the company is releasing a cheaper speaker that still sounds great.
At $999 (or €990/£990), Devialet is going for a wider audience of music fans who have enough disposable income to look beyond your average Bluetooth speaker.
But pricing is just part of the story. The Phantom Reactor is also much more compact than the original Phantom. It is four times smaller and weighs 10 pounds. It’s still quite heavy, so you won’t be able to pack it in your suitcase when you’re flying for vacation.
But you can now put it on a shelf, unplug it and move it to the kitchen, etc. In other words, you no longer have to dedicate an entire table to your Devialet speaker. And as you saw in the photos, it definitely looks like a Devialet speaker with its egg-shaped design, but much smaller.

Fortunately, the company tried to compromise as little as possible when it comes to sound. Devialet has worked for three years on this speaker to produce the same sound quality in a smaller package. “We had to reinvent everything to release this product,” co-founder and CTO Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel told me.
When it comes to specifications, the Phantom Reactor features a tiny touch panel at the top to control the speaker. It connects to your phone or computer using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect or UPnP. There’s also an audio jack. Chromecast Audio support as well as the ability to pair multiple speakers will come later with an update (you probably can already use multiple speakers with AirPlay 2 though).
There’s no microphone and Devialet doesn’t plan to support voice assistants on its devices directly. “We are completely focused on sound quality. We want to be platform agnostic with Apple, Amazon or Google. Our idea is that we want to make our speakers compatible with all the protocols from those companies — but our business is sound quality,” CEO Franck Lebouchard told me (former CEO Quentin Sannié wasn’t around during our meeting).
If you’re into voice assistants, you can always find a workaround. For instance, you can buy an Amazon Echo Dot and plug it to your Phantom Reactor. Let’s see if the company adds HomeKit support and other smart home features in the coming months.
Given that Sonos has taken a U-turn and integrated Amazon Alexa into its flagship speaker, I pushed a bit more on this front. “We have no plan today because it would involve a lot of effort to interact with Reactor to do your shopping. In the end, we’ll never be as good as Amazon,” Lebouchard said.

So the Phantom Reactor is just a damn good speaker, nothing else. “There’s zero background noise, zero saturation and zero distorsion,” Lebouchard said. And just like other Devialet speakers, it’s incredibly loud for the size of the speaker. During my fairly limited listening session, it sounded awesome.
It takes advantage of Devialet’s patent portfolio, including its unique sound amplification technology, a mathematical model that lets you push the speaker to its physical limits and the iconic piston-powered woofers.
But Devialet isn’t just a speaker manufacturer. The company has licensed its technology to other companies, such as Sky in the U.K. A couple of years ago, the company wanted to put a “Sound powered by Devialet” sticker on all your electronics products, from your TV to the speakers in your car.
“Phantom was the first step to make our technology accessible,” Lebouchard said. “Phantom reaches tens of thousands of people today. We’ve crossed a big milestone with the Sky Soundbox and we now reach hundreds of thousands of people.” And with the Phantom Reactor, the company hopes to reach even more customers.
The company told me that Devialet will follow all options. There will be new in-house Devialet products as well as more licensing deals. Lebouchard gave me a ‘no comment’ on the Freebox rumors though.
The Phantom Reactor will be manufactured in France near Fontainebleau. The company has built a brand new factory and expects to produce a speaker every 49 seconds.
There will be two versions of the Phantom Reactor, a 600W model for $999/€990/£990 and a 900W model for $1,299/€1,290/£1,290. Pre-orders start tomorrow and the speaker will be available in many consumer electronics stores (also on Amazon) on October 24th.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Lydia now supports Samsung Pay

Lydia now supports Samsung Pay

While French banks are just catching up to Apple Pay, French startup Lydia is adding support for Samsung Pay. If you have a recent Samsung phone, you can now add a virtual card to Samsung Pay and pay using your phone in your favorite stores.

Lydia started as a peer-to-peer payment app. It works more or less like Venmo or Square Cash in the U.S. After signing up, you can add a debit card to your account and send and receive money for free. You can withdraw your balance to a traditional bank account whenever you want.

The company has been adding more features to turn Lydia into the only banking app you need. You can now connect Lydia to your bank accounts, view your balances, get an IBAN, initiate transfers, create Lydia sub-accounts with multiple people and get a physical MasterCard.

Some features are now part of a premium subscription for €2.99 per month ($3.47) or €3.99 per month with the physical card ($4.62). The company also expanded to the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Portugal. There are a million registered users on Lydia.

More interestingly, Lydia wants to go beyond peer-to-peer payments. You can use Lydia to pay in some grocery stores, such as Franprix stores. You can also pay online by receiving a push notification and confirming the transaction in the Lydia app — Cdiscount supports Lydia for instance.

And when you can’t pay with your Lydia account directly, the startup doesn’t want to play favorites. You can generate a virtual card and enter the card number on an e-commerce website. You can add this virtual card to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. Let’s see if Google Pay is next.

This could be particularly interesting for users who can’t use those payment systems because their banks don’t support those features. Let’s be honest, you rarely change your bank. With Lydia, you can still use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay with your existing bank account.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Back Market raises $48 million for its refurbished device marketplace

Back Market raises million for its refurbished device marketplace
If you’ve tried selling your old smartphone on a refurbishment website, chances are you ended up with a dozen browser tabs comparing prices. French startup Back Market is taking advantage of this fragmented industry to create a marketplace and aggregate all refurbishers on a single online platform.
The startup just raised $48 million (€41 million). Groupe Arnault, Eurazeo, Aglaé Ventures and Daphni participated in today’s funding round.
Back in May, the company told me that it was working with over 270 factories. Back Market has generated over $110 million in gross merchandise volume over the past three years. The service is now live in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy. The company just expanded to the U.S.
“Before, refurbishment was just a thing for tech savvy people and tech bloggers,” co-founder and chief creative officer Vianney Vaute told me. “With Back Market, it becomes a mainstream alternative.”
Working with multiple factories is also a competitive advantage when it comes to pricing, fail rate and quality assurance. Back Market has an overview on the industry and can choose to work with some partners and leave underperforming ones behind. The startup needs to build a brand that consumers can trust.
While smartphones and laptops are the most prominent products on the homepage, Back Market also accepts game consoles, TVs, headphones, coffee machines and more. Back Market also sells Apple products refurbished by Apple itself.
Now that smartphones have become a mature market, many customers aren’t looking for new and shiny devices. Some customers can be perfectly happy with a phone that was released last year or two years ago. It represents an opportunity for Back Market and the refurbishment industry as a whole.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Tempow raises $4 million to improve Bluetooth

Tempow raises million to improve Bluetooth
French startup Tempow has raised a $4 million funding round. Balderton Capital led the round, with C4 Ventures also participating. The company has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol to make it more versatile.
Smartphones, speakers and connected devices all use Bluetooth in one way or another. There are only a handful of Bluetooth chipset manufacturers in the world, such as Qualcomm and Broadcom. While Bluetooth chips have become incredibly efficient as they use much less power than they used to, it’s been stagnant on the software front.
Tempow is a software company that wants to rewrite the Bluetooth stack from scratch. The company started with an audio profile.
Thanks to Tempow’s technology, you can connect a phone to multiple Bluetooth speakers at once. This is just a software improvement — it works with standard Bluetooth chipsets and all Bluetooth audio devices out there.
Lenovo liked this idea and licensed the technology for its Moto X4 handset. More than 5 million devices with Tempow’s Bluetooth stack have been sold.
With today’s funding round, the startup wants to tackle more use cases. For instance, Tempow wants to optimize the pairing process, enhance the security of the protocol and work on battery consumption. “Maybe you could pay using Bluetooth instead of NFC,” co-founder and CEO Vincent Nallatamby told me.
At the same time, the startup is negotiating with multiple manufacturers. You can expect to see Tempow’s technology in more devices in the future.
The company currently has 7 patents pending and just got its first patent last week. Eventually, Tempow thinks it can build a team of Bluetooth experts who push the protocol forward.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Canal+ gives up on its cable box, switches to Apple TV

Canal+ gives up on its cable box, switches to Apple TV
French premium cable television company Canal+ is slowly moving away from building its own set top boxes. As Next INpact spotted, you can now subscribe to Canal+ and get an Apple TV 4K with Canal+’s myCanal app already preloaded.
Canal+ has been around for decades and was the first premium TV channel in France. Over the years, the company started distributing all sorts of premium channels through satellite, cable and partnerships with internet service providers.
While you had to get your own Canal+ set top box to receive Canal+ 15 years ago, the company’s own box has slowly become irrelevant. As all the main French internet service providers give you a set top box, Canal+ has partnered with them to offer multiple add-ons to receive Canal+’s content.
When Canal+ announced its most recent device, Canal+ already said that you’d get a better experience with the myCanal app on the Apple TV.
That’s why Canal+ is betting everything on over-the-top distribution. If you don’t subscribe to Canal+ through your ISP, you can get an Apple TV 4K for €6 per month in addition to your TV package. If your internet connection isn’t fast enough or you’d rather use satellite TV, you can still get a Canal+ set top box.
But the writing is on the wall. Most people will soon watch Canal+ through myCanal on Android TV, tvOS, iOS, Android, a Samsung TV and desktop computers.
In France, Molotov and myCanal have been some of the top performing apps for tvOS and Android TV. This partnership could boost the Apple TV in France.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Devialet is getting a new CEO

Devialet is getting a new CEO
 Employees of French startup Devialet just learned this morning that they would get a new CEO. Co-founder and (former) CEO Quentin Sannié is going to focus on the long-term vision, while Franck Lebouchard is joining the company to become CEO.
While the board of the company elected Lebouchard as CEO on Friday, this change has been in the works for months. Lebouchard has worked at McKinsey… Read More

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch