Jawbone maker branches out with Jambox speaker

JAMBOX_Black Diamond HandAliph, one of the most successful venture capital-backed consumer electronics start-ups in the U.S., has carved out a lucrative niche for itself making the high-end Jawbone mobile phone headset. But the company is launching a new product that will take it in a new direction, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company on Thursday unveiled the $199 Jambox, a Bluetooth wireless portable speaker which does double duty as a speaker phone. Aliph hopes it will become a must-have accessory for owners of iPhones, iPads and billions of other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

“This is the first step into a whole new world beyond headsets,” said Aliph CEO and founder Hosain Rahman.

Rahman thinks the 6-inch, 12-ounce Jambox will be the answer to a modern-day dilemma familiar to iPhone afficionados: how to stream audio from the device without the hassle of a dock, wherever you are. It will play audio from at least 33 feet away, and up to 100 in some cases. As with the Jawbone, Rahman said the quality of Jambox’s sound is what will set it apart from competitors.  The Jambox will be available in Apple stores starting Nov. 16. It will also be available at Best Buy.

San Francisco-based Aliph is backed by more than $40 million in funding from heavyweights Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital and others including entreprenuer Marc Andreessen. The company, which has more than 100 employees, won’t comment on its finances, although Andreessen told Reuters last year that “they’re doing more than $100 million in revenue.” And Aliph’s profile has been rising quickly in the enterprise market, after the company struck a partnership with networking giant Cisco earlier this year.

CES: Ford’s Mulally digs hands-free, in-car Pink Floyd

Here’s Ford CEO Alan Mulally getting excited about the new MyFord Touch in-car tech system, launched today at CES.

First attempt cut short by lack of Internet access. He’s not the first CEO bedeviled by tech problems at the show, after a power cut delayed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote on Wednesday evening.

Second take shows successful launch of hands-free Pandora Internet radio. Pretty cool, despite choice of dinosaur-rock station.