The challenges of competing in a global world
The landscape is changing for smaller companies operating in the hi-fi and home cinema fields, and it’s getting ever harder for them to compete with the massive Far Eastern corporations in some key areas.
I recently had a lengthy conversation with senior staff of one British audio/video specialist company regarding the problems of developing disc players and multichannel amplification: they’ve been “working on” a Blu-ray player for a very long time, and had developed an innovative solution with another electronics firm. However, that third party hit snags, so the company in question had to opt for an off-the-shelf solution, rebuilding the product around that.
It’s not alone. Another UK-based company had just the same kind of problems with its Blu-ray hardware.
In the meantime, the Japanese and Korean manufacturers are on their fourth- or fifth-generation hardware, launching 3D-capable Blu-ray equipment left, right and centre. Suddenly the idea of a minimalist BD machine pitched at several times the price of a 3D-ready one from Sony or Panasonic, yet offering less than state-of-the-art facilities, looks like a hard sell.
At least those specialist, small-scale companies can clean up with multichannel amplifiers, yes? Er, no – today’s amplifiers and receivers are a minefield of standards, licensing and chipsets; even adding a simple feature can cost a fortune. Not bad when those costs will be spread over tens of thousands of units; tough when you may only sell hundreds.
As someone said to me the other day, “it was so much easier when it was just CD players and amplifiers”.