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DataPlay Furloughs Staff

BOULDER, COLO. — Portable data storage maker DataPlay has furloughed its workforce while the company searches for additional funding to continue operations. A spokeswoman for the company confirmed these details last week. The furlough took place during the week of Sept. 30. DataPlay expects some news on whether additional financing will be forthcoming sometime this week. DataPlay has suffered through a string of problems, the most recent of which resulted in 50 percent of the workforce being let go in August as a belt-tightening measure. After several delays the company had finally reached the market with two licensed hardware devices from iRiver and Classic, while Imation was rolling out blank 500MB media.

Software-Based AM/FM Tuning Due In 2003

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The first AM/FM radios that use software to tune into stations will dramatically enhance reception of analog broadcasts and will be in stores in time for fourth quarter 2003 sales, according to Motorola. Some of the products will be displayed at International CES. The first commercial products incorporating the company's Symphony chipset will be shelf systems, car radios and possibly portables, said John Hansen, a marketing director in Motorola's semiconductor products sector. OEM car radios incorporating the chipset will be available to consumers in 2004. The audible difference between a Symphony-based radio and a traditional analog radio, the company claimed, will be comparable to the difference between cassette and CD playback. A Symphony-based radio, Hansen explained, would cost about the same as a traditional analog radio, with Symphony radios sounding better than today's premium radios. Hansen would disclose only the name of one partner, Hyundai Autonet, which makes car radios for automakers and aftermarket suppliers.

Aiwa, Sony One As Branding Plan Evolves

PARK RIDGE, N.J. — Aiwa's move from affiliate of Sony to a wholly-owned subsidiary, which was announced in March, occurred on Oct. 1 as predicted, with some decisions being put in place as to how the brand will work in the marketplace. But specifics on the brand's position in the marketplace have not been finalized yet but are expected to be made by the end of Sony's fiscal year in March 2003. Sony expects that the move will provide benefits such as a more efficient management structure, allow the company to offer products in the Aiwa line that Sony doesn't carry and strengthen product launches, according to Sony senior VP and communications director Rick Clancy. Aiwa America president and CEO Jim Palumbo and his sales organization now report to the Sony Electronics Group. Clancy added that one of the decisions that has been made about Aiwa's presence in the marketplace is that "Aiwa products would be sold to select dealers," meaning that fewer retailers would be selling the brand. No further details on distribution strategy has been set.

MARTA Adds 106th Member

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Rainbow Rentals, the nation's fourth-largest rent-to-own chain, has joined the MARTA Cooperative of America, bringing the group's membership up to 106 dealers. The $24 million retailer, based in Canfield, Ohio, offers brand name, fully featured appliances, electronics, computers and furniture at its 123 stores located in 14 states from Massachusetts to Michigan. In other MARTA news, the group has opened its new executive office at 11-13 Sunflower Ave., Paramus, N.J. 07652. The new phone number will be announced shortly.


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