COMMENT: I don’t know what it is about the sound industry that they constantly screw up time and time again. The humble iPod got right up the noses of executives running the Hi Fi industry, and their ramblings went on for months.
Several industry heavyweights waded into the debate describing the iPod at the time as an inferior sound delivery system to “It’s a fad” that will go away, to one Hi Fi web site claiming that Apple had “clearly designed a lemon”.
In the time it took the Hi Fi industry to wake up to the value of the iPod which was about 18 months, Steve Jobs had made billions flogging the tiny device. In fact he made more money selling iPod devices and portable music players than the Hi Fi Industry had made in the past 10 years flogging sound systems that were fast losing appeal around the world.
And as sales boomed and the smart operators came out with iPod docking stations the Hi Fi industry who have a diehard reputation for being elitists, purists but not necessarily good business people sat back and watched until suddenly the light went on.
Today the Hi Fi industry is still struggling while Steve Jobs makes billions each quarter selling the software and hardware that turned the iPod and the iPhone into an overnight music sensation.
The sad part about the Hi Fi industry is that they still don’t understand how to engage with consumers. They still love their buzz words and their elitist statements despite woeful sales when compared to what the TV industry is getting.
Sound is the other half of vision and while the TV industry has made billions convincing consumers that they need a new TV, the sound industry is still trying to work out whether two channel sound is making a comeback and where the Hi Fi industry disappeared to as the TV and content industry boomed and the sound industry went into recession.
Just think about it, when was the last time you saw a great ad on the TV for a sound system or even better a home entertainment management system.
And if you have seen any form of advertising for a sound system the chances are that it was a picture of a big ugly box stamped Marantz, product number, Denon, product number, Onkyo product number or Yamaha product number, etc etc and etc.
Then there are the buzz words associated with this industry, receivers, amplifiers, DAC systems, tuners words that mean nothing to a vast number of consumers out there especially those with disposable income who are running out to buy iPads, Smartphones, 3D TV’s, Tablets and iPod docks.
Right now retailers are hurting, the TV boom is over and margin erosion is eating into their returns. TV’s from have gone from $10,000 for a 50″ plasma to $1,000 for the same if not better TV leaving retailers with no margin.
So what’s next? How about selling sound and entertainment management and not recievers and Hi Fi how about taking a lesson out of Steve Jobs book and make the message simple.
A stunning TV is useless without great sound and an iPod or iPad can deliver sensational sound experience when attached to a great sound system.
If the Hi Fi industry was smart they would collectively ditch the word receiver and start marketing home entertainment management systems linked to iPads, Tablets and Smartphones.
Communication should not be about the box but the convenience of owning a home management system that delivers great entertainment sound whether it is from a TV, Blu ray player, attached iPod or even a record player.
Consumers will buy a sound management if it is sold to them properly however they won’t buy a brand name and a number that is associated with a device that appears complicated and labelled as a Hi Fi system.
They want networking connectivity, so that they can get access to content. They want good two channel sound as much as they want excellent 5.1 or 7.2 channel sound from their system.
Retailers also need to wake up to the value of selling sound systems. Remember, it was only four years ago that consumers were paying $10,000 for a flat panel TV. Now they are paying $2,500 which leaves at least $2,500 to $3,000 to spend on a home entertainment management system that pulls together all the devices in the home either wirelessly or hard wired.
Consumers need to be shown using an iPad all of their devices connected to one home entertainment system. From the Foxtel box to the PS3 to the V to the iPhone dock to the Blu ray player to the source media devices. They need to be shown what a sub woofer and a great pair of speakers can deliver when connected to a home entertainment management system.
What the Hi Fi industry needs to do is employ an advertising agency that is able to create marketing collateral that screams sex appeal like the iPad or the new Samsung Galaxy Tab instead of constant penny pinching with homemade house advertising that nine times out of ten are created on a Mac in some back room because for generations the Hi Fi industry has seen smart marketing expenditure as an unnecessary expense.
Would you believe that even now, in the year 2010 there is still one UK Hi Fi Company, who still sends us 10X8 glossy black and white prints along with a hard copy press release in an envelope via the postal system.