Market Insight

Dolby acquires rival sound company

July 26, 2012

David Hancock David Hancock Director – Research and Analysis, Cinema & Home Entertainment, IHS Markit

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Dolby Laboratories has acquired Spanish sound company Immsound, a rival in the newly re-competitive cinema sound sector. The 30-40 screens equipped with Immsound will be converted to Dolby Atmos over time, and the Immsound brand will disappear but Immsound's development team will remain in Barcelona. Dolby recently announced 20 cinemas globally that were to be equipped with Atmos, in this pre-launch phase.

The logic behind this move is clearly to reduce the number of companies launching products in this space (five at last count), but the specific choice of Immsound is driven by the lack of competing patents or technologies between the two and the complementarity of their research and development activity, according to Dolby. It could also be argued that Immsound was offering a similar product to Dolby's Atmos system and offered the most visible threat to the adoption of Dolby Atmos. It also leaves three companies with rival products, of which one at least is very quiet (Swiss company Illusonic) and may not be looking for a mass market (for cinema anyway), such as Dolby and Auro.

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