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Instead of making something that was beats by dre ireland dictated in form and function by a panel of designers and a battery of field testing, Jensen wanted to tap noteworthy designers to offer up their own ideas for unique, timeless handsets–things that would never get past the brainstorming phase at Samsung, Apple, or HTC–beats by dre and he wanted to then manufacture them with no expense spared. The idea was that Aesir would introduce a new handset every two years or so, each completely independent of the one before it.In a way that idea flips the existing model for hardware design on its head. Instead of brainstorming and testing and iterating until you’ve arrived at the design the market wants, Jensen hoped to give designers free reign to build their own phone, and then find a market for whatever they came up with. The core principles of building phones from the best materials that would last for years were always there, Jensen says, “but how it would look and how it would work was basically up to the designer.””Our role would be more like, say, a gallery,” he explains. “We would be responsible for making sure whatever came into the gallery was interesting and had something on its mind, but that’s it. How it looked, and so on, that was not our baby. For that, we would find visionary designers, and that brings in the exclusivity. There had been, in the early stages, a relationship with Flextronics, one of the world’s biggest mobile phone OEMs, but after spending six months scratching their heads over Béhar’s design, Jensen explains, they essentially threw in the towel.

If they were to bring Yves’s design to life,” he recalls, “it would be full of compromises. So the keyboard that went all the way to the edges–they couldn’t do that. It would be twice as thick as Yves’s design called for, and probably 15% or 20% longer. So you’d get something that was a far cry from what he designed.” In other words, hardly a phone without compromises. So Jensen cast about for new development partners, eventually settling on Product Development Technologies, an American company founded by a former mechanical engineer at Motorola.Then came the real hard part: finding suppliers. Jensen and his colleagues at Aesir spent two years trying to locate someone who could supply beats studio the handset’s metal parts. They found one company that seemed like a promising prospect, but after a year going over Béhar’s design, they too came back and told Aesir that it wouldn’t be feasible to do the parts in stainless steel, as initially proposed, and that they’d only make them in solid gold. And a phone made out of gold, Jensen admits, would be “very hard to defend as not a luxury product.” (Eventually, a gilded version of the AE+Y was produced. Retail price: roughly $58,000.So we were back to square one,” Jensen explains, “and we almost had to close the company. At that time we were already two years delayed. And our investors said.

We love the concept, we love the design, the thinking is great–but if you can’t find anyone to manufacture it, there’s no company.'”The investors gave Jensen three months to find a supplier–which he did, in a French company that specialized in making precision parts for clients like Boeing and Rolex. But the road they had taken to get there had been extremely costly. “From start to finish, Jensen recalls, “four and a half years . . . instead of two. And instead of the ‘x’ million euros we thought it would cost, it cost four times that. But we got a product! Unfortunately at that time we ran out of money, and our owners ran out of money, just as we got on the market.” Béhar’s phone went into production, but in the ensuing financial vacuum, the company that supplied the electronics platform that powered the device took control of Aesir entirely.And still, even after the suppliers had been secured, there were always nasty little lessons for the startup to learn, lurking in corners of the massive mobile industry. Jensen recalled one particularly demoralizing episode that transpired when the company was ordering the displays for Béhar’s design. Aesir was forced to buy 5,000 units at a time, which they could manage, but just as they were about to place the order, they were informed that they needed a small processor to control those displays–which required a minimum order of 100,000 units, at $2 a pop.

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