Bose might not be the unassailable audio giant it once was. Boston Globesources say the company has been implementing “rolling layoffs” in recent years, with public data indicating that its headcount dropped from 9,000 in 2019 to 7,000 in 2021. Recently departed employees told the newspaper that Bose had fallen short of sales targets as new products struggled in the market, including the Frames audio glasses and SoundControl hearing aids. Competition from rivals like Apple and Sony is also believed to have hurt Bose’s bottom line.
The latest layoffs, in March, cut 245 jobs and reportedly wiped out the health division responsible for the hearing aids. The decision came despite scrapping a planned sleep headphone product, according to the insiders. CEO Lila Snyder supposedly axed the group after an outside review suggested Bose needed to drop its hearing aid work.
Spokesperson Joanne Berthiaume confirmed the most recent batch of layoffs to the Globe. She declined comment on staff counts or strategy, but characterized the latest layoffs as a question of focus. They would help Bose concentrate on the products that “matter most” to customers, she said. Berthiaume added that Bose was still hiring in other areas, with 200 available roles.
A shrinking workforce wouldn’t be surprising. While Bose is virtually synonymous with (if not always liked for) headphones and speakers, it’s competing in markets increasingly dominated by true wireless earbuds like AirPods, not to mention smart speakers like those from Amazon and Sonos. Add in the niche nature of experiments like Frames and it’s clear the company doesn’t have as many opportunities to thrive as it once did.