Why did Doppler Labs fail?

Doppler labs, the maker of Here One ear-buds, is shutting down.

This San Francisco-based company was founded in 2013 by Noah Kraft and Fritz Lanman, who continued to be the CEO and Chairman respectively. Kraft had experience in the entertainment industry while Lanman was an angel investor. Both of them came together to create a company that would manufacture an alternative to Apple’s Airpods.

To this end, it obtained many rounds of funding. The first of these was a $17 million Series B funding in July 2015 by The Chernin Group and Acequia Capital. With this capital, it began manufacturing and by the early part of 2017, it released its flagship product called Here One earbuds.

This was truly a different kind of product as the earbuds were supported with a companion app that allowed you to tune out external noise. For example, you could tune out airplane noise without tuning out the voice of the person sitting next to you. Likewise, you could amplify the bass at a concert and do other tricks to create a personalized listening space for you.

Despite these advanced features, Here One didn’t take off. According to a report, the company sold only 25,000 units as against the expected hundred thousand plus units. Due to this failure to sell, investors were not ready to invest more or back up this company in any way. Also, it couldn’t find a reasonable buyer, so Doppler labs decided to shut down its operations.

As a final good-bye, Doppler labs released an app that allowed Here One to be used as an app-based hearing assistant aid. This was one of the biggest ambitions of the company, so it fulfilled that and gracefully shut down its operations.

This shut down came as a surprise to many people simply because they weren’t expecting it at all. Internally, the company was stable with Kraft and Lanman providing the right leadership. Also, the product is a good one, though it failed to attract a large customer base. Maybe with time and more marketing, this product could have become a hit with customers. Though it’s hard to say, the exit of Doppler labs is sure to leave a small, but significant void in this industry.

However, the idea that in-ear computers are the next frontier has reached well within the industry. Let’s hope this leads to more developments on this front.

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