By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Portable-audio suppliers are turning to WiFi, GPS, stereo Bluetooth, built-in TV timeshifting, high-speed digital transfers from a DVR, and tight integration with select authorized-download sites to compete against Apple, deal with rise of MP3-playing cellphones, and stimulate repeat sales as the market matures.
And the market is maturing, though still growing in units. Unit sales at retail grew 14.9 percent for the 10-month period ending October 2007, down from 26.4 percent during the year-ago period, The NPD Group statistics show. Dollar sales fell during the 10-month period in 2007 by 1.7 percent compared to 19.7 percent growth in the year-ago period, NPD also found.
Similarly, factory-level dollar sales of MP3 players fell during the first nine months of 2007 by 8.9 percent to $3 billion, CEA statistics show.
Hoping to out-feature Apple's iPods, Cowon and iRiver are here with models that double as personal navigation devices (PNDs) when docked in an in-car cradle. iRiver is launching two portable A/V players with built-in GPS navigation.
Also at the show:
Archos plans to display a DVR that transfers recorded TV content via high-speed USB digital connection to a variety of its PMPs.
iRiver is launching multiple models with touchscreens.
Philips is launching its first eight portables first eight models optimized to play back music from Real's Rhapsody subscription-download service; and
with tight integration in mind, Xias is launching a player and a download service.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.