Is the consumer electronics business swimming, sinking, or simply treading water? It all depends on who's talking. Retailers don't appear to be suffering, despite widespread staffing cutbacks by large companies, but the gains are coming more slowly than they did last year.
A slump in the music business is officially over. Sales of recorded music in the United States last year totaled $14.6 billion, an all-time high. The figure is a 6.3% increase from 1998's total of $13.7 billion, the previous record, according to a recent report from the Recording Industries Association of America (RIAA).
San Francisco---Vacuum Tube Valley's tube and antique audio show here last week drew dozens of exhibitors and hundreds of attendees to the Airport Clarion Hotel over the Feb. 6-7 weekend. The heavy rains that caused mudslides in some Northern California communities, combined with high tides that flooded some freeways, kept attendance down. The show's turnout was "about half of what we expected," said VTV publisher/editor Charlie Kittleson.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative has decided to reconfirm San Diego–based Verance Corporation's watermarking technology as its choice for inhibiting piracy in digitally recorded music. The May 21 announcement was made by the SDMI Plenary after a year-long campaign to evaluate the effectiveness and audibility of watermarks from 14 different vendors. The group has also apparently decided to halt further research and development efforts, which have been widely blamed for hobbling the rollout of DVD-Audio.
Music fans are mourning the passing of swing era giant Lionel Hampton. The vibraphonist, band leader, and multi-instrumentalist died August 31 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan of complications from age and a recent heart attack, according to his manager Phil Leshin. Hampton was 94.