In 1983 the Jutland Telephone Co. (JT) were looking for a new partner to develop and manufacture their telephones. They approached one of our clients, Bang & Olusfen a/s, Struer , Denmark for whom we were designing audio equipment at that time.
The brief was to a design “the world’s best telephone”, a computer-phone to demonstrate JT’s innovative lead in the market. Bang & Olufsen had no experience in telephones, but thought that this project would expand their technical competence and equip them better to meet the future.
At the first meeting with JT in early 1984, we presented an innovative, integrated computer-telephone concept that fulfilled the brief, but we also showed how it could be developed into a whole family of products. The smallest of these was a mock-up of a simple voice-phone. Contrary to their own brief, this was the design that excited JT. They said that “they would like to have it yesterday” – and never thought about computer-phones again.
We completed the design of a telephone that focused on creating a completely new user-experience. Bang & Olufsen set up a new division, built a factory and after 2 years intense development introduced the Beocom series to the global market. The shape was crisp and precise, and very different. It created a real stir. People without a need for a new telephone bought it simply for the looks.
The success of the Beocom telephone was its combination of freshness and friendliness. The idea of a colourful telephone that became the focal point of a room was new. It also integrated many thoughtful features such as a hi-fi quality sound, a lightweight handset, a note pad that slides out to reveal a code-number dialling list and user manual and an emergency call button for children and elderly.
The telephone became an immediate favourite both for professional and private use, as well as among interior designers. Advertising agencies loved it too and it soon appeared on the sides of buses and in style and fashion magazines, where it still appears regularly.
Production was finally discontinued in 2003, not because the design was outdated, but because the original electronic technology was no longer competitive.