NEW YORK (Reuters) - British entrepreneur James Dyson, who famously brought sex appeal to the lowly household vacuum cleaner, is back with another high-tech invention: but does the world really need a $300 room fan?
Yes, Dyson says, citing the personal health and ecological benefits of the “Dyson Air Multiplier Fan,” a desktop cooling device with no blades that was unveiled on Monday.
The stylized fan draws air into its cylinder-shaped base and then forces the air out through an upright ring perched on top of the base. With no blades and discretely concealed vents, the jet of cool, fresh air appears to be coming from nowhere.
Dyson says the trendy-looking fan beats the experience of traditional fans, which create an uneven, unpleasant experience with dirt-collecting blades. It is even cleaner than air conditioners, which use far more power and fluorocarbons.
“So you have this tremendous power consumption with air conditioning (and) a potential health hazard — why not open the window and have a pleasant time?,” said Dyson in a telephone interview.
While flashy fans, some fashioned in chrome, can fetch a pretty penny, generic fans cost about $10-$30 on average. Many air conditioners cost less than the Air Multiplier, which also comes in a larger model priced at $330.
“But we are delivering something better, so it’s bound to cost more,” he said, from London.
Dyson has succeeded in delivering high-end products in a tough economic environment. His pricey upright vacuum cleaner debuted in 1993 at the height of a recession, and have since sold more than 31 million units — more than half of those were sold in the past three years.
Dyson’s privately held company’s operating profit rose 7 percent to 89 million pounds in 2007, as the company increased its market share. It has quadrupled the amount it invests on research and development in each of the past five years.
The company is working on other products related to electric motors and batteries, but for now he says, “We love things where air is moved.”
And as for the rich price tag of the fans, Dyson says that it is precisely times like these when consumers are most willing to pay a premium for special items.
“Its a good time to disrupt the market,” he said. “People are looking for value ... in a recession. They spend their money carefully. I hope that if you are going buy a fan, buy one that really does the job really well.”
Editing by Steve Orlofsky