By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Both Sony and Eclipse recently underwent changes in top management, with Sony's former director of sales for mobile electronics, Bill Lee, taking the new post of product general manager, and Eclipse veteran Ray Windsor returning to the helm of the company.
Lee says his aim is to maintain Sony's cutting edge in technology, to generate "cool technologies" and increase market share.
"We'll continue to focus on product development in new technologies like hard disc drives and satellite radio without abandoning [core technologies such as] CD and amps, where we've made great strides. There's an expectation from our retailers and end users for Sony always to raise the bar in cool technologies and we'll continue to do that. That's our mantra," he said. He would not offer further details.
Regarding Sony's current leading edge units, the hard-drive-based and TFT models, MEX-IHD and MEX-5DI, Lee said the units are selling well, though prices are too high for the general marketplace. "What we're finding out now is there's a limited amount of business happening at the $1,000 to $1,500 price points. We're delighted at how much of that business we're getting, but it's too soon to tell. We've been to market with it only for about 45 days."
Lee said the company is in back-order on its new mobile video products. "We're working furiously to address the increased demand," he said.
Lee replaces Steve Haber, former VP marketing, who became GM for digital imaging products. Phil Lubell, formerly senior marketing manager for the division, will become GM product management for accessories including headphones, remote controls and portable speakers. A replacement for Lubell is expected to be named shortly.
Eclipse's Windsor said his mandate is to return the company to a key position with 12-volt specialists. Windsor, who left Eclipse almost three years ago, said he is returning "because I [put] 10 years of work and energy into a project that I believe still has a lot of room for growth." Windsor claimed that there is a vacuum in the market at present for a brand "that really wants to partner with retailers."
"Eclipse has been faced with some challenges in the past year or two — some product challenges and process challenges. It will be my goal to make sure both those issues are resolved," Windsor said.
He would not identify Eclipse's specific challenges, however the company has undergone three changes in managers in the past three years. Retailers said Eclipse had a brief glitch two years ago with defective CD players that skipped, but that was rectified. Since Windsor left Eclipse, its market share declined from 2.5 percent in head units to 1.1 percent at present, according to NPDTechworld, Port Washington, NY. Retailers said they hoped that the return of Windsor would mark a return to stability for the company.
Said Windsor, "Our goal as a company will be to make the brand very important to each of our retail partners. I'm going to put into practice the kinds of systems we had previously. We're looking to do serious business with serious business people — retailers who understand how to sell product and how to sell it profitably."
Windsor left Eclipse in August 1999 and served as sales VP at Clarion, and then general manager of Audiobahn and Ichibahn.
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