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Niles Plans Triple-Digit Launch

Niles Audio plans new products numbering in the triple digits to mark the largest product introduction in its 28-year history.

The company plans 115 new SKUs at September’s CEDIA Expo.

The new products are expected to boost growth in 2006 and 2007 following a 2 percent 2005 gain that interrupted double-digit gains of 15 points and 30 points in 2004 and 2003, respectively, said president Frank Sterns.

Sterns attributed 2005’s performance to several factors, including the financial difficulties of some of its A/V dealer customers, notably Ultimate Electronics, which went bankrupt and downsized, and the demise of the Good Guys. “Thirty percent of our business is with specialty A/V dealers,” Sterns noted. Another factor in last year’s slower growth rate was a drop in R&D spending and staff before the company’s purchase in 2005 by Linear, which has been acquiring a stable of custom installation and audio/video brands in recent years.

This year’s gains will be due in part to the recent shipment of the IntelliControl ICS (Integrated Control Solutions) multiroom audio system, a modular receiver-based system whose plug-and-play functionality eliminates the need for programming that would cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, the company said. In new construction, an IntelliControl six-zone system with $250/pair speakers per zone would cost consumers about $10,000.

System programming time is less than 10 minutes with the use of a PC.

Niles is planning ICS system enhancements, including:

  • an RS-232 translator box, due in late summer, to integrate control of Escient and ReQuest music servers and Lutron lighting systems;
  • a module to play back music from a networked PC;
  • Niles’s first music sever, which will be developed by sister company Imerge to work with IntelliControl ICS without the need for programming. It will ship by year’s end;
  • an HD Radio card by year’s end; and
  • a tabletop networked iPod dock/charger to complement the ICS’s modular iPod card.