TWICE: Although iPod-dedicated amplified speaker systems (and a few iPod-docking shelf systems) probably aren't categorized by the industry yet as two-channel shelf systems, are they fulfilling a similar role in the house?
Bente: Without question, the iPod has been a catalyst in the development of a whole new spin on the tabletop or shelf system. The estimates we see for market size are well over $1 billion and growing. The fact that we were among the few traditional home audio suppliers to recognize and seize the opportunity probably comes from many things. One is that prior to the iPod, we were providing premium speaker systems to all of the major computer brands. The other reason we launched JBL On Tour and On Stage early was that we knew the iPod was not simply a product, it was a whole new way for people to relate to music.
Klipsch: Yes, I believe iPod-dedicated speakers are starting to fill the role of two-channel systems in some living environments. People are using these setups as secondary systems in their living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens and as primary systems in their offices and dorm rooms. In fact, every Klipsch iPod system is a true two-way design that's powerful enough to fill a party with sound.
The only drawback to iPod listening is that the level of sound quality is dictated by the compression format that is used to import the songs. The more compressed a song is, the more sound quality is lost. I believe that most people opt for more songs and less quality. After all, studies show that consumers often use these types of systems for background music rather than serious listening.
Mintz: 2007 will see more traditional home audio suppliers enter the iPod-dedicated shelf system space. The traditional audio industry is not declining as much as it is simply changing to accommodate how people play their music. "Traditional" home audio suppliers are recognizing this and now supplying high quality alternatives to support it.