Howcott Leaves JVC Audio Division

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Wayne, N.J. - Steve Howcott, general manager of JVC's consumer audio division, has left the company, and his responsibilities have been handed over to consumer display VP Michael Holmes.

  JVC has been scaling back its U.S. home audio presence in recent years, having dropped out of the AV receiver market several years ago and, this year, scaling back its HTiB product selection.

  It wasn't clear if Howcott's departure would be one of several departures coming in the wake of an announcement in Tokyo last week that JVC and Kenwood would soon

finalize an agreement

to cut costs by establishing a new company that merges their current holding company, JVC Kenwood Holdings, with Victor Co. of Japan (JVC); Kenwood Corp., which makes home audio and communications equipment, and J&K Car Electronics Corp., which sells JVC and Kenwood car audio.

JVC hasn't returned calls for comment.

  At January's CES, JVC

unveiled

two soundbars to replace three models but at lower price points of a suggested  $249 and $149 compared to a previous top price of $799. The company also showed three step-up iPod/iPhone speaker systems, which it said would come to market depending on dealer interest, and an iPod/ iPhone-docking Kaboom boombox.

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