If one were to judge by new high-end audio-product intros at this year's CES, the industry appears to be hopping. So far we're only halfway through the Alexis Park (the home of most high-end audio exhibitors at the Show), but our bags are already overstuffed with brochures. Not surprisingly, a lot of the two-channel manufacturers are branching out to the multichannel market.
Branding was once reserved for cowhide and breakfast cereals, but changes in the retailing landscape have fostered new approaches for everything from running shoes (Niketown) to cartoon-character merchandise (Disney and Warner Bros. stores) to clothes (Gap, etc.). In the audio market, Bose stores are now common sites in shopping malls, but few higher-ticket companies have taken the brand-store plunge.
As expected, the Recording Industry Association of America held a press conference last week to announce the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), with which they hope to develop Internet downloading technologies for music. The move comes after a rough year for the music business, which has seen thousands of unauthorized websites offer copyrighted material for free using the MP3 audio format.
As expected, the Recording Industry Association of America held a press conference last week to announce the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) which hopes to develop internet downloading technologies for music. The move comes after a rough year for the music business who has seen thousands of unauthorized websites offer copyrighted material for free using the MP3 audio format.
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).
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 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.
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.
Over three quarters of a million readers served! With several million "page views" and dozens of millions of "hits" in the past 365 days, the Stereophile website has continued to grow steadily, with a record number of folks visiting practically every week. We've also dished out over 300 news articles---practically an article each day---covering everything audio, from important new-technology announcements to the demise and then rebirth of several legendary brands.
We'd been playing phone tag for a couple of weeks, but Paul McGowan was finally tethered to a handset as he explained to me a product from his "new" company, the reincarnation of PS Audio. "Everything you've ever wanted in a power conditioner---times 10---with none of the drawbacks!" McGowan could hardly contain himself while pitching his latest brainstorm. He certainly had an intriguing idea, but the path from founder of PS Audio back in the late '70s to Genesis Technologies and back again was nearly as interesting.