It would seem almost reasonable to imagine that your next stereo receiver or preamp could have an "intel inside" sticker on the front. Last week, software company Be made several announcements that it hopes will not only bring such a future to consumers, but also place itself at the center of the Internet-connected home-entertainment equipment market.
Back in the spring of 1986, I was visiting a hi-fi show in Lucerne, Switzerland. In the KEF/McIntosh/Perreaux room, I was engaged by a voluble American, who wanted to talk about the changes I was making with the English magazine Hi-Fi News. The conversation shifted to the hotel bar, then to a restaurant. The American was one Tony Federici, who at that time was distributing Perreaux gear in the US. With an education in the philosophy of science, Tony's comments were insightful and challenging. He was never at a loss for an opinion! After I moved to the US to take the editorial reins at Stereophile, Tony stayed in touch, and many were the conversations we had about audio magazines, the audio business, and music.
Last week, Napster announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with US songwriters and music publishers to settle a class action lawsuit currently pending in federal court in California. The beleaguered company says the agreement includes terms under which the songwriters and music publishers will license their music to Napster's new membership-based service.
In early June, Toshiba will institute a new retailing program that embraces the Internet but favors traditional retailers. The electronics manufacturing giant will have "a defined group of Internet retailers" that will be built on a base of traditional retailers, according to an announcement made in late April. Later, the program will be expanded in stages to include Internet-only retailers. The announcement follows an announcement by Sony Corp. late in January that Sony would begin direct Internet sales this year.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that factory-to-dealer sales of audio products soared in March, with dollar volume increasing by 14% over March 1999, to a total of more than $721 million. According to the CEA, sales in the first quarter of this year were 10% ahead of first-quarter 1999, at approximately $1.75 billion.
Getting a jump on the RIAA's move to create a new music-download standard (see related article), Tower Records announced last week that it will feature a new song-download service, created by Atlanta-based amplified.com, on the Towerrecords.com website.
Even after a two-day auction and federal bankruptcy court approval of a $134.3 million bid by the Great American Group, which has stated that it plans to liquidate the music retailer, it's not precisely clear what is in store for Tower Records.
The fate of Tower Records has been the subject of music industry speculation for months. The company's financial difficulties have been no secret; several stories recently appeared alluding to a new Tower policy of making some suppliers share the burden—especially distributors of small specialty classical labels.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. This is especially true for music lovers who have begun to fear that record companies purposely corrupt the data on audio CDs in an effort to restrict their use as a source for copies or MP3 files.
John Atkinson and I recently spent a few hours talking to cable manufacturer Tributaries' president and founder, Joe Perfito. Perfito had come to NYC to meet the press and introduce his company's newest cable families, the high-end Series 7 and the higher-end Series 9. "The Series 9 cables are the best cables we know how to make," Perfito told us. "The interconnects are hand-made of 20AWF solid OFHC signal conductor and a 1.25% silver-plated 46-strand 20AWG OFHC return conductor. We use an LDPE dielectric and an OFHC copper-braided shield and a double-sided copper foil secondary shield for 100% freedom from interference. The conductors are double-soldered to the solid brass connectors, then pressure welded—they will not let go of one another."
It's been a rough season for some in the e-commerce crowd, as several consumer-electronics Internet startups find themselves amid changes. Last week, CyberShop.com announced that it will close the e-tailing sites CyberShop.com and electronics.net (created as a joint venture with Tops Appliance City, which is now under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection) and sell these operations' remaining retail assets. At the same time, the company says it will launch an "Internet incubator" through the establishment of Grove Street Ventures to attract and develop startup Internet companies.
Troy Kosovich, Dynaudio's director of marketing, died Tuesday, September 14 in a single-car accident near Bozeman, Montana. According to a newspaper report, he apparently lost control of his Isuzu Rodeo while returning to his hotel after an evening with a client. Troy was 37 years old and is survived by his wife, Angel, and his three-year-old son, Killian.
There's no question that restricted-use or copy-protected CDs are finding their way onto retailer shelves and into unsuspecting consumer hands—often with frustrating results. What is in doubt in many consumers' minds is how to recognize a restricted-use disc before purchase.