The recent success of online retailers---especially when launching initial public offerings---has been phenomenal. In the past two years, Internet shopping has taken off in a big way, and shows no indication of slowing down. Technology trendwatcher Forrester Research predicts that worldwide Internet commerce will hit the $3.2 trillion mark within four years, accounting for 5% of all commerce.
For those of you who need yet another Jimi fix, Experience Hendrix/MCA will release a 2-CD collection of music from Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys concerts at New York City's Fillmore East, which took place on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970. Drawn from the guitarist's four legendary performances, the new package will contain 16 tracks, 13 of which have never before been released in any form, with two additional tracks making their CD debut. Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East will be released on CD and 180gm vinyl (three LPs) on February 9.
When going up against the consumer electronics industry, the Recording Industry Association of America has no problem keeping the upstarts in their place. In fact, with recent battles over DAT and CD-R, they appear able to kill or mortally wound entire formats at will. But fighting within the computer universe is a whole new story, as recently proved by the RIAA's stumble with Diamond Multimedia and their portable MP3 device (see related stories).
Audiophiles have more than just piles of equipment and music to wrestle with in their quest for audio ecstasy. The listening room often colors a system's performance as much as any component in the chain. Tom Norton decided it was time to examine the subject, writing, "although the perfect room does not exist, there are things that can be done to make the most of even an admittedly difficult situation." See his report in "Enough Room?"
Editor's Note: This item is an excerpt from an e-mail received from Russia late last week. It's noteworthy that the US Congress has spent hundreds of days and more than $50 million investigating the President's adolescent shenanigans, while elsewhere in the world serious trouble is afoot. Leonid Korostyshevski is a computer consultant and audiophile in the university town of Saratov, on the Volga river 600 miles east of Moscow. His previous dispatch appeared here in March.----BW
With the reality of digital television now almost within our grasp, manufacturers of big-screen sets must feel like sky-divers in free fall. Until the 'chute opens with the snap of digital displays finally hitting the stores, the market for large, expensive, conventional rear-projection models might appear to be controlled by nothing but the force of gravity. In a highly unscientific survey, I asked a few dealers around the country whether big-screen television sales were down and whether consumers seemed to be waiting for the coming of the first digital sets. The answer to both questions was a uniform and unequivocal yes.
Last week's Vote! question about vibration control garnered one of the most interesting groups of comments from readers so far. Everything from bicycle tires to bubble wrap is being employed in audiophile homes around the world in an attempt to subdue the dreaded curse of the shakes.
For any good battle, it helps to have several key ingredients. First, there has to be an underlying conflict that cannot be settled with diplomatic ease---it is especially important that both combatants covet the same property. Second, each side has to set a propaganda machine in motion to create the appearance of a noble struggle for the good of "the people" that transcends the simple fight for turf control. Third, the outcome of such a battle should have implications stretching far into the future. And finally, these days it helps if the press notices.
Internet traffic doubles every 100 days, according to some statistics. This growth has been accompanied by an increase in the amount of online shopping---a phenomenon that has had a significant impact on retailers. Independent bookstores, for example, have been squeezed not only by the expansion of large-scale operations like Barnes & Noble, but also by the popularity of Internet discounters like Amazon.com and Borders.com. Online sales of recorded music by both record clubs and start-up resellers have put a dent in the bottom lines of many mass-market music stores---although not a huge one yet. The trend will certainly continue.