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Klipsch, Yamaha In Sales, Product Alliance

Tokyo — Cobranded Yamaha/Klipsch home theater systems are in store for the U.S. market in the first quarter of 2005 under a distribution and product-development alliance struck between the audio electronics and speaker companies.

Klipsch and Yamaha will jointly develop speakers and home theater systems for the global market. The two companies plan to offer combinations of Yamaha A/V receivers and Klipsch speakers as well as DVD-receiver/speaker packages globally, a Klipsch spokesman said. They will start with the Japanese and North American markets.

Also as part of the alliance, Yamaha will be the exclusive marketer of Klipsch speakers in the Japanese market, boosting Klipsch’s small presence in that country. The products include Klipsch Reference home speakers, ProMedia computer and video-game sound systems, Klipsch in-wall and in-ceiling architectural speakers and Klipsch professional cinema systems, starting in November.

Klipsch ended an agreement with Samsung to market co-branded Samsung/Klipsch home theater systems, Klipsch said. The Yamaha-Klipsch relationship will be closer, Klipsch claimed. “The Samsung/Klipsch product offerings included existing Klipsch models. “Yamaha/Klipsch product offerings will be newly developed in close collaboration.”

The spokesman also said Yamaha and Klipsch “are two like-minded companies that have the same approach to the marketplace.” They also have similar positions in the component-audio business.

Details on how cobranded systems would be distributed haven’t been worked out, said the Klipsch spokesman. “Yamaha/Klipsch co-branded systems and A/V solutions will be distributed either by Yamaha or Klipsch based on the market and the channel of distribution,” he said. “Both companies will come to agreement on the market and channel prior to distribution.” Potentially, both companies could distribute cobranded systems in the United States, but if that happened, each company would distribute separate SKUs, he said.

Pointing to the potential for products other that co-branded home theater systems, chairman Fred Klipsch noted that “our partnership with Yamaha reaches far beyond distribution. Together we will leverage the strengths of both brands to enter new markets and develop new products across multiple categories.”

The companies haven’t identified what those new products might be. “The sales and product development alliance between Klipsch and Yamaha is global in scope and may include U.S. options that cannot yet be defined beyond co-branded A/V packages and systems solutions,” a Klipsch spokesman said. “Top managers for both companies have directed their teams to seek out opportunity where it exists without conflict.”