Plantronics was founded in 1961 and started life manufacturing aircraft headsets. After working with NASA to develop headsets for use in the Apollo moon landings, Plantronics turned their attention to telecommunications headsets and developed the first commercially available phone headsets in conjunction with Pacific Bell.
Acquiring Walker Equipment in 1986, Ameriphone in 2002 and Altec Lansing in 2005 has opened up new avenues for Plantronics – specifically entry into the amplified headsets and equipment for the hard of hearing, and other powered audio products, however Plantronics core business remains telephone headsets for mobile, office and call center use.
The company is based in Santa Cruz, CA and is publicly traded under the ticker symbol PLT.
Headsets.com was founded in 1997 as an internet retailer of telephone headsets. While manufacturing their own line of products – the Executive Pro – Headsets.com also provide headsets from other manufacturers, GN Netcom, Plantronics, Sennheiser and Jabra.
Known as much for their Customer Satisfaction practices, as their products, Headsets.com considers itself “America’s Headset Specialists” and bolsters its service levels by reducing discounts available to end users. The company has been running its “60 Day Free Trial” campaign since 2004 and has won awards for both Customer Service and Direct Marketing, and is perhaps one of the best known independent headset retailers in North America.
A ‘sister’ website exists for Customers in Canada – 1-800-Headsets.ca
The company is based in San Francisco and remains privately owned.
GN Netcom is part of the Danish technology giant GN Great Nordic founded in 1869. GN Netcom itself was formed in 1987 as a spin-off from GN Danavox and produces a wide range of telephone headsets.
GN Netcom have acquired many of the independent manufacturers of headsets in the US. Some brands such as ACS and Unex were temporarily integrated into the product line although have since been dropped, while others have retained their identity within the company - Jabra being perhaps the best known.
In 2000 GN Netcom acquired the telecom's retailer and headset manufacturer, Hello Direct as a wholly owned subsidiary, and has since integrated the operations of the company into its Nashua, New Hampshire headquarters, while reducing emphasis on the Hello Direct product line.
Jabra was founded in 1993 and developed headset products for use with the Apple Macintosh’s voice recognition and telephony applications. Later, they developed PBX headsets, before switching their focus to corded mobile headsets and finally Bluetooth enabled headsets.
Known for their sharp design and brightly colored eargels, Jabra mobile headsets were a phenomenal success – although as the company was privately held, exact sales were unknown.
Acquired by GN Netcom in 2000, Jabra has continued to be successful, introducing some of the first Bluetooth wireless headsets. Recently, GN Netcom have started to rebrand themselves as Jabra.
Sennheiser is a family owned and managed company founded in 1945 and based in Wennebostel, Germany. They are perhaps best known for their extremely high fidelity audio headphones and microphones, popular with audio professionals and enthusiasts for their rich, true sound.
Recently, Sennheiser have combined both of their areas of expertise, to produce headsets to serve the call center, office and mobile markets - both corded and wireless. The company has continued its long history of using quality components to build headsets with excellent sound, both sending and receiving.
The Koss Corporation, founded in 1953 and based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, produces a wide range of popular stereo headphones. Considered ‘mid range’ against their much more expensive counterparts Sennheiser and Grado, Koss produce high quality headphones at an affordable price.
Koss are unique among other manufacturers in that they offer a no questions asked lifetime warranty for many of their products.
Polycom was founded in 1990 by Brian Hinman and Jeff Rodman, and spent two years developing their first product – the SoundStation. They have since dominated the market for conference products, with their iconic three sided SoundStation Pro.
Polycom have acquired many smaller companies in their rise to dominate the conference market, each one bringing new technologies to the company. The video conferencing specialists ViaVideo in 1998, the router manufacturer Atlas Communications Engines in 1999 and the network provided Accord Networks in 2001.
The company is based in Pleasanton, California and publicly traded under the ticker symbol PLCM.