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Britain's Arcam Acquired by Harman International and Samsung

by Brandon Dimmel July 23, 2017

The home audio world just got a little smaller, with the announcement that renowned firm Harman International recently bought up by tech Goliath Samsung has acquired A&R Cambridge Ltd., better known as Arcam.

It's not yet known how much Harman paid for United Kingdom-based Arcam, which was founded in Cambridge more than four decades ago by a pair of local university students. Today, the firm is well known in the UK, Europe and North America for its production of high-performance audio devices like receivers and speakers, with the latter making their way into a wide range of devices including televisions, tablet computers, smartphones, and wireless streaming systems.

With just 35 employees, Arcam remains a small company and until recently was a subsidiary of Montreal, Canada-based Jam Industries.

Chris Dragon, Harman's senior director of marketing, says the acquisition of Arcam will help Harman build better hardware. “With a strong audio heritage, we relentlessly pursue innovations that will enable us to deliver the best solutions for our customers and consumers,” said Dragon. “We have found in Arcam a like-minded passion for bringing the highest quality sound into people's lives."

For its part, Arcam says the acquisition by Harman will give it access to the kind of resources it needs to build better consumer products. "Becoming part of Harman will give us access to technology ... that should give us the means to develop better products in the future," noted Charlie Brennan, a managing director at Arcam.

So, how will this news affect Arcam in the near future? Not much, notes Brennan. "I don't envisage any sudden moves -- it's business as usual for all of the Arcam team. I believe we can make a big difference to the high-performance brands that Harman has owned for years and will continue my quest to save the world from bad sound with a bigger and stronger company behind us."

It's been only four months since Samsung bought Harman for the hefty price of $8 billion. With the acquisition of Arcam, Samsung now oversees the direction of some major high-end audio brands, from AKG to Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson and Revel.

It's not yet clear if the acquisition will have a significant effect on Arcam. However, it's worth noting that Samsung has done little to change how Harman International does business, with Harman continuing to operate like a completely independent company since its March 2017 acquisition.

That said, it's likely Arcam will be busy, with industry insiders in South Korea speculating that the newly acquired firm could be tasked with helping Samsung develop a new artificial intelligence speaker based on the company's Bixby virtual assistant. Rumors indicate that Samsung is planning to unveil this technology at next year's Consumer Electronics Show, though Samsung has not yet commented on this or its plans for Bixby.

Looking forward, Dragon sees Arcam making its mark on Harman and Samsung products. “With impressive technologies and outstanding talent, Arcam will be an exceptional addition to Haman’s luxury audio team," Dragon said. "As demand for higher quality audio rapidly accelerates, we are eager to seize the many opportunities in front of us.”