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Back Office- The Invisible Store Manager
August 1, 2005

Manage retail remotely by adding Big Brother to the payroll It may not always have the best connotation attached, but the concept of an omniscient presence within any business, vis-à-vis "Big Brother," means that less manpower can conceivably cover more territory. A Big Brother-like solution has recently found its way into the world of retail management thanks to Appleton, Wis.-based Sovus Media, a company that has taken the idea of audio and video monitoring to a new level with its Digital Assistance solution. According to Sovus, Digital Assistance allows retailers to literally manage multiple store locations remotely in real time—from anywhere in the

The Sliding Scale- How World Wide Stereo revamped commission s
July 1, 2005

At the turn of the new century, Bob Cole, owner and founder of Bob & Ron's World Wide Stereo, was sitting on top of a very successful, 20-year-old business. He had zero debt and was poised to grow his multi-million, one-store operation in Montgomeryville, Pa. to new heights, with plans to add nearly four stores. Then he got the worst news possible: a diagnosis of prostate cancer and a time frame of just two months to live. "When I got sick, the business did not run well," he says. The expansion plans were scaled back to just one additional store, located in Ardmore, Pa.,

Sirius Teams With Sprint
June 15, 2005

SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Sprint teamed to offer select SIRIUS Satellite Radio programming via wireless phones. Select music channels being evaluated by Sprint and SIRIUS for the new service include new hits, classic rock, hip-hop, country, blues, soul, jazz and Broadway, according to a press statement. The new Sprint service will be available nationwide, says Sprint, while both companies plan to announce more specifics of the service, as well as price points later this year.   Explains Scott Greenstein, SIRIUS president of entertainment and sports, "One of our goals is to make this unique content available to as many Sprint PCS VisionSM customers as

Research Shows MP3 Player Sales Increase
April 18, 2005

JupiterResearch, a division of Jupitermedia Corporation, reported that U.S. shipments of MP3 players will grow 35 percent to 18.2 million in 2005 and maintain a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent through 2010, reaching an installed base of 56.1 million, up from 16.2 million in 2004. MP3 players will reach critical mass this year, fueling demand for digital music services and stores, says Jupiter. "Apple shows no signs of losing momentum," explains Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at JupiterResearch. "The iPod is a consumer phenomenon. Apple dominates this sector and will dominate portable MP3 player growth over the medium

CEA Evaluates Audio Amp Standards
April 13, 2005

The Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) Audio Systems Committee announced a new working group to review CEA-490-A, Standard Methods of Measurement for Audio Amplifiers, which discusses how to test and measure audio amplifiers. Originally created by the Video Systems Committee in December 2001, the new working group will be updating the standard for 2005 to incorporate requirements for home-theater-in-a-box systems and audio amplifiers that are incorporated into TV sets. "The standard needs to be modernized in order to include the current progression of audio equipment and we're looking for broad and active involvement in the standards updating process," CEA Technology and Standards Manager Megan

Optical Still Strong- Taiwan, Mainland China Will Ship 12.3 Bil
April 1, 2005

The optical storage manufacturing industry has gravitated toward Taiwan and mainland China in recent years. Almost 50 percent of optical drives and 80 percent of discs will originate from a Taiwanese or Chinese manufacturer in 2005. Taiwan-based manufacturers are expected to ship 100.27 million drives and 11 billion discs in 2005, according to the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center. These figures are equivalent to 42 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of total global shipments. Imation, TDK, Maxell, Philips, Mitsubishi, Sony, Pioneer, Wal-Mart, Auchan and Best Buy are some of the major brands and resellers that source optical storage products from Taiwan. Capable

Tuning into Audio Consumption- New Audio Opportunities for the
April 1, 2005

The image of the audiophile is changing. No longer can we paint this person against the backdrop of a high-end, two-channel sound system cached in a dedicated listening room. The audio experience has moved well beyond this nostalgic expression to embrace new formats and frontiers, with digital technologies leading the way. Without a doubt, the picture of today's audiophile is painted on digital canvas. Paralleling this trend, the audio industry has witnessed a period of transformation over the past several years: Surround sound has blossomed under the banner of home theater; numerous digital audio formats have emerged; demand for portable audio has surged;

Klipsch Acquires Jamo
February 15, 2005

The international reach of Klipsch Audio Technologies is about to get bigger. The audio company announced that it has acquired Jamo A/S, a Danish speaker manufacturer that has global distribution, with significant presence in Europe and China, including 135 Jamo-branded retail locations in the Asian superpower. According to a statement by the company, the brand name and key assets of Jamo are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Klipsch Audio, Inc. Jamo will remain a separate company under Klipsch and will keep its headquarters in Glyngøre, Denmark, distribution channels, sales force, design and product development facilities and the Chinese retail stores. Its U.S.

Retail Guinea Pig
February 1, 2005

About 40 years ago, Sam Walton told John Kiefer: "If you really want to see what's going to happen, you don't want to talk to old guys. You want to look at the kids. If you look at the kids in the sandbox, you can look at everything you need to know about marketing." At the time, Walton was opening up a chain of tiny variety stores across Arkansas and Kansas. The first Wal-Mart debuted in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. Kiefer's distribution business, Kief's Records & Stereo Supply, serviced the record departments in the first six Wal-Mart stores. The "look at the kids

Audio's Future is in the Air
February 1, 2005

For many retailers, audio needs a hero. Super Audio CD (SACD) and DVD-Audio (DVD-A) have been a huge disappointment for CE and music retailers. But hope can be found in other technologies. The bounding success of satellite radio and the burgeoning promise of HD Radio is giving reason for consumers to love audio again, and giving the retailer an additional profit generator. At CES, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio announced strong positions in their market, with XM ending 2004 with just over 3.2 million subscribers to its service, leading its rival, which ended the year with 1.1 million. Seven hundred thousand

Broadcasters Continue Rally for Digital Radio
January 10, 2005

Las Vegas — While the television broadcast industry continues its conversion to HDTV programming to support the multitudes of products available to the public, radio broadcasters are taking a different approach to the digital conversion of the radio medium. At CES, a significant group of broadcasters, representing almost a majority of radio stations in the United States, pledged their intent to convert their stations to digital, even though only a few lines of product on the market support it. "By the end of 2007 we plan to convert 75 percent of our stations in the major markets," says Jeff Littlejohn, executive senior vice president

Satellite Radio Services Battles it Out at CES
January 6, 2005

LAS VEGAS- Sirius and XM Radio both made announcements yesterday in hopes of generating more buzz about the satellite subscription format. While Sirius has spent a great deal of time touting the anticipated Howard Stern crossover by 2006, XM also announced a slate of new talk show hosts, including conservatives G. Gordon Liddy and Dr. Laura. XM also introduced "Connect-and-Play," a technology designed to integrate the service into a range of home entertainment devices, such as setero and home theatre receivers, radios, portable media players and DVD players, among others. For an added $50 fee, users can plug the antenna into an XM-ready product

The Rise of the Digital Integrator
January 1, 2005

You might say that Gordon Van Vuiten was ahead of his time. For 12 years he worked as a value added reseller (VAR) who provided service, support and sales to major companies—a corporate IT man for hire. His company had contracts with million dollar corporations and B2B was the place to, well, be. But in 1997, he sold the business and took a step in a direction that seemed risky for a person with a background as a VAR—offering services to the consumer. But today, this transition is making sense to more than just a handful of VARS; they are becoming the newest faces

The Media Center Effect
January 1, 2005

In October, Microsoft made its largest push yet to gain a foothold in the living rooms and entertainment centers of America with its announcement of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, along with complimentary products and services from third parties, such as Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba's Digital Products Division, D-Link, Linksys and Netgear. Media Center proposes to run your whole entertainment center, acting as a TV tuner, a digital video recorder, a DVD player, a broadband internet access device, a music player, a photo viewer. If it works, it's a very compelling sell. The press, analysts and hardcore geeks went into their predictable tizzies

Napster 2.0 Launches with Partners
October 29, 2003

The cat with headphones logo is making a comeback with the launch of the new NAPSTER, version 2.0. Now owned by Roxio and supported by content agreements with the five major record labels and several independents, NAPSTER announced that it will officially launch its online music service to the public on October 29. In addition to a review of the new service, Roxio announced partnerships and plans with several other companies, including Samsung, Microsoft and Gateway. The new NAPSTER offers $.99 downloads per song from a library of over 500,000 songs. Entire albums can be downloaded for $9.95. The software allows easy burning to CD

Nationwide Goes After Mindshare
January 1, 1904

They may not have the muscle, manpower or notoriety of national CE chains, but the 3,000 mom-and-pop operators gathered this week in Orlando, Fla., for the Nationwide Marketing Group’s semi-annual buying meeting are proud of how much merchandise they moved last year, and they expect to do it even better in 2007. “The [CE] industry is projected to be up 31.85 million units, a one percent improvement over 2006,” said Mike Decker, Nationwide’s vice president of marketing, electronics. “As a group, we expect to grow 10% over 2006 in unit sales.” Greg Rozman, owner of Rozman Brothers, a 52,000-square-foot showroom in

January 1, 1904

Sonos, a developer of wireless music distribution solutions, reported strong 2006 sales, a number of new initiatives and plans to reach more dealers in 2007. Sales last year jumped by 150 percent over 2005, with more than 100,000 units sold, the company reported. The number of households that bought a Sonos system increased by more than 120 percent over 2005, boosting incremental household sales by “tens of thousands,” according to the company, which is privately held and does not release specific sales figures. John MacFarlane, CEO of the Santa Barbara-based company, said sales through Tweeter’s 150 locations were particularly strong, fueled