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SpeakerCraft Responds To Downturn, New Consumers

10/04/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

ATLANTA — SpeakerCraft is changing its
product and distribution strategy to survive
the downturn in home construction
and remodeling and win the allegiance of
a growing younger population unfamiliar
with the industry and with quality audio
reproduction, SpeakerCraft president
Jeremy Burkhardt said during the CEDIA
Expo.

The whole industry, he warned, “must
reinvent itself” to appeal to the next round
of new home buyers or the custom industry
“won’t last,” he told reporters.

To appeal to a customer base beyond wealthier older
consumers who are building big homes, SpeakerCraft
is diversifying into products such as high-performance
iPod/iPhone/iPad-docking speaker systems and expanding
its selection of high-performance in-room
speakers, Burkhardt said. The company will also expand
distribution of those products beyond installers to
over-the-counter retailers to expand its appeal.

The retailers include members of the Progressive Retailers
Organization (PRO Group) buying group, which
the company joined several months ago, and other
“higher-end mass-market retailers with a very aggressive
MAP pricing policy,” Burkhardt said. “You won’t
see a Target or Walmart,” he added. However, Best
Buy’s Magnolia Home Theater stores within Best Buy
stores have been carrying select SpeakerCraft products
for about five years, and Magnolia will offer the
iPod/iPad speaker systems, he noted.

Installers will have to adjust to the market’s changes
by embracing over-the-counter products, Burkhardt
added. Installers “must embrace the fact that they can
sell a box, and it can be part of a multi-room system,”
he told TWICE.

Although “we’ve focused on changing the core competency
of the company” during the past 24 months,
Burkhardt said, the company isn’t abandoning custom
products or installers. Burkhardt called SpeakerCraft
the largest in-wall and in-ceiling speaker supplier at the
show, and he used the Expo to launch the company’s
first outdoor underground subwoofer and new bezelless
flush-mount in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, which
install like regular custom speakers and feature independently
pivoting woofers and tweeters. SpeakerCraft
is also showcasing a revised Nirv home-control/multiroom-
A/V system, which distributes multiple 1080p
video streams across CAT-5 cable.

For broader distribution that will nonetheless include
installers, the company launched two iPad/iPod-docking
one-chassis speaker systems at $999 and $399,
a docking integrated amp at $699, three two-way
bookshelf speakers in five piano-gloss colors at $249
to $449, and two in-room subwoofers at $999 and
$1,199, also in five piano gloss colors.

The docking integrated amp is the $699 Vital 250,
said to be the first docking integrated amp that docks
with iPads, not just iPhones and iPods. The amp has
optical and coax digital inputs and subwoofer output.

The $999 FloBox docking-speaker system, features
CD player, FM tuner, pivoting and tilting base, slidedown
front grille to hide controls, DSP, and bass and
treble controls in a single 11-inch by 18.5-inch by 10-
inch chassis. It’s available in five piano-gloss finishes.

The smaller $399 FloBox Mini, at 7 by 11 by 7.25
inches, lacks a CD player but includes an FM tuner.
Five piano-gloss colors are offered.

All three docking products are DLNA-certified but
lack Wi-Fi or an Ethernet port. Nonetheless, they can
stream music from a PC when outfitted with an optional
SpeakerCraft-supplied Sonic Air sender and receiver.

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