Shokz is arguably the most well-known and respected manufacturer of bone conduction headphones. The technology dates back to the late middle ages and early renaissance, but Shokz is mainly responsible for bringing it to the mainstream by catering to athletes and specialty users. Let’s look at the background of Shokz and AfterShokz and see how it happened.
AfterShokz started in 2011 as a partnership between companies in New York and China. The companies specialize in developing and selling bone conduction headphones through several affiliate companies worldwide. In 2021, on its 10th anniversary, AfterShokz rebranded to Shokz to simplify marketing.
Many misconceptions exist about the Shokz brand, the company behind it, and how the products are manufactured. As with many multinational corporations, it isn’t always easy to see how Shokz operates and how the business fits together. Let’s look at a few aspects in closer detail.
In order to fully understand the evolution and impact of the Shokz brand, it's beneficial to explore its latest offerings, such as the unique OpenFit model.
Where Is Shokz Located?
Defining where Shokz is located is more complicated than it seems. For most practical purposes, the company’s head office is located in Austin, Texas, which is fast becoming a hub for tech companies worldwide.
However, Shokz has other offices that don’t fall under the Texas office directly. These include:
- Shenzhen Shokz in Guangdong, China
- AfterShokz Euro in Leiden, The Netherlands
- Shokz Holding Ltd in Hong Kong
These companies and offices operate as affiliates and refer to themselves as the “Shokz family of companies. Each office is referred to as a separate data controller for a particular region.
In some ways, the Hong Kong office carries more responsibility since, while the other offices each cater to a particular region, the Hong Kong office is responsible for all the different areas not covered by the other four.
In short, Shokz is a truly international company that isn’t really located in one fixed country or region.
Is Shokz A Chinese Company?
Shokz, as we know the company today, was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 2011. This is the same company that is now based in Austin, Texas.
However, the technology behind Shokz’s bone conduction headphones comes from Shenzhen Shokz Co., Ltd., based in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen Shokz has been in the audio industry since 2004, manufacturing standard speakers and headphones. However, since the company conducts its own research, it started focusing almost exclusively on bone conduction technology in 2007.
Due to the incredible advances that Shenzhen Shokz made in its bone conduction research, the company finally brought bone conduction headphones into the mainstream in 2011 when it started to manufacture and distribute them with a particular focus on athletes through partnerships with affiliate companies like the one in Austin, Texas.
So, even though the technology was perfected (and is continually improved on) in China, and most of the manufacturing takes place in Shenzhen, Shokz is a truly multinational group of companies.
Where Are Shokz Headphones Made?
Since Shokz’s original bone conduction headphones were designed and developed in Shenzhen, China, it makes sense that they are also manufactured there.
However, as always, we find it’s not that simple with Shokz. Due to the strong affiliation between Shenzhen Shokz in China and AfterShokz (Shokz) in the United States, much of the design of modern Shokz headphones comes from the offices in Austin, Texas.
From there, production moves to China, where the headphones are manufactured, mainly in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The manufacturing happens in partnership with another affiliated company called Voxtech Ltd.
This is a common approach with consumer electronics companies because China has a well-established supply chain, a massive manufacturing base, and relatively low labor costs, making the process easier and cheaper, resulting in a more affordable product for the end-user (not to mention more profitable for the company).
Are Shokz And AfterShokz The Same?
AfterShokz and Shokz are the same. The product was rebranded, and some company names with it, from AfterShokz to Shokz, on December 29th, 2021. A few things changed simultaneously, but they are still the same products and companies.
Why Did AfterShokz Change To Shokz?
Shokz said they changed the name to make it shorter, snappier, and more shareable. The modern world is full of two-syllable product names and acronyms, so switching from AfterShokz to Shokz meant the name was easier to say, remember, and share with others. There’s also a clear move towards including the word “open” in Shokz’s marketing material.
However, not everyone is convinced that it was a good move, as the name AfterShokz has become synonymous with bone conduction for many people. Even years after the change, many online retailers still have to label their Shokz products with the added line “previously AfterShokz” to ensure people recognize it.
What Else Changed?
Though the companies and products didn’t change in more than name, a few other notable changes came with the transition from AfterShokz to Shokz.
- The logo changed. This makes sense since using a logo that says “AfterShokz” wouldn’t work for a product called “Shokz.” The new logo places the “o” in the middle, without the dot it had in the old logo, and with sound waves bouncing off it. Shokz says this emphasizes their commitment to clean sound and open ear canals.
- The popular AfterShokz Aeropex was replaced with the new Shokz OpenRun bone conduction headphones. They are virtually the same device, with the same emphasis on comfort while running, but the OpenRun supports quick charging and Bluetooth 5.1, which Aeropex did not support.
- AfterShokz’s swimming earphones, Xtrainerz, were replaced with the new Shokz OpenSwim. These devices are essentially identical except for the rebranding and slight cosmetic changes. They are both dedicated MP3 players with bone conduction made for swimmers.
Though other athletes can also use them, the rebranding to “OpenSwim” emphasizes their proper focus, as the sound quality would underwhelm most people if they’re not in the water.
Note that OpenSwim is not purely a headphone. It has no Bluetooth connectivity, but it has a built-in MP3 player that lets you listen to music where you can’t take your phone.
AfterShokz rebranded its products to Shokz in 2021, though some of the companies behind it still operate under the AfterShokz name. However, the quality of the products did not change in the least as the design, development, and production are still managed by the same companies and teams of engineers. Shokz emphasizes its commitment to improving bone conduction even more.