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Philips, Nike Sign In Audio Alliance

3/26/2002 09:24:00 AM Eastern

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Beaverton, Ore.- Philips will take over OEM manufacturing of Nike-branded portable audio devices from SONICblue under an agreement in which co-branded Philips/Nike products will be available in September.

Seven portable audio products will be available in 2002, including two flash-memory MP3 portables with 64MB and 128MB of memory at a suggested $129 and $199, respectively. The products also include two MP3-CD portables at a suggested $149 and $179, the latter for a portable that plays only 3-inch CDs.

The alliance, however, isn't limited to audio. Future products will include apparel and equipment that 'combine communications, connectivity and information to motivate athletic activity,' the companies said.

The products will be available through CE retailers and Niketown stores worldwide. Under the agreement, Philips is the lead contact for retailers, but Philips 'is working very closely with Nike on all aspects of the alliance,' a Philips spokeswoman said. Retail channels will include CE retailers and perhaps athletic-equipment stores. 'We are working with Nike to determine all of the channels now,' the Philips spokeswoman added.

Under Nike's previous agreement with SONICblue, Nike marketed portable audio to CE and athletic retailers, and SONICblue sold the products on its web site. SONICblue said it will continue to sell its Nike products on its web site for the rest of the year.

Samsung was in competition with Philips to get the Nike deal, and late last year an optimistic Samsung marketer said an agreement would soon be announced.

Nike entered the CE market about 1 1/2 years ago through the SONICblue alliance. Nike, which started as a running-shoe maker, has diversified into watches, baseball gloves, ergonomic backpacks, sports eyewear, and golf clubs.

The Philips-made line and future products are designed 'to enhance the overall athletic experience,' and their designs are based on 'our knowledge of athletes,' a Nike spokeswoman said. For example, the products are designed to be comfortable to wear during sports and fitness activities and can be operated without looking at them, Nike said.

'They deliver a high-quality audio experience that is inspiring and motivating for physical activity,' Nike also said. 'The market is full of technology products that stifle athletic activity. We are focused on creating technology solutions that motivate physical movement for athletes at all levels,' said Nike Equipment VP Peter Ruppe.

The first Philips/Nike products are the:

  • PSA128MAX and the PSA64 solid-state headphone portables, due in the summer sold with an armband and headphones specifically designed for uninhibited movement. They play MP3 files and can be uipgraded to play additional file formats. They offer a sweat-resistant stainless steel design, more than nine hours of battery life on one AAA battery, remote control, and rubber control buttons, making them easy to grip while keeping sweat and moisture out. The suggested retails are $199.99 and $129.99 respectively.

  • Two MP3 CD players, the $149-suggested PSACD12 and the $179-suggested PSACD8. The latter plays 3-inch MP3 CDs, and the former plays 5- and 3-inch MP3 CDs. The players sport a stainless-steel casing and provide shock protection to prevent skipping when exercising. Both players feature an orange backlit LCD for easy viewing. Accessories designed for movement including a remote control, hand strap and butterfly apparel clip for extra convenience. The 12 ships in the summer, the 8 in the fall.

  • The PSAFM digital-tuning radio with stainless-steel casing, armband and butterfly apparel clip. The PSAFM will be available this summer at a suggested $49.99.

  • The Duro headphone at a suggested retail of $29.99 will be available this fall, and the Flight headphone will have a suggested retail of $19.99 and will be available this summer.