Yamaha gets tuned in to PC markets

Yamaha gets tuned in to PC markets

Manufacturer adapts music expertise to explore alternative channels to push beyond audio/visual convergenceYamaha is prying into PC peripherals on the back of the audio visual/IT convergence, offering high-end speakers and CD rewritable components as part of its range.

At a press conference, Geoff Crane, manager of multimedia products for Yamaha Australia, said the traditionally conservative manufacturer of musical instruments and audio products was exploring alternative channels to push its range in the narrow Australian market.

"Extending our speakers to the PC environment is a natural progression because the PC is a home multimedia platform," said Crane. "With broadband just around the corner, the PC has the ability to become central to the home audio/multimedia environment."

Yamaha's new TSS-1 sound system, due to hit Australia next year, allows users to control treble, bass, scan for and lock in radio stations, and create special effects such as surround sound from their PC. "The PlayStation 2 will be a very convenient place to plonk that product," said Crane.

Crane believes that as home entertainment becomes more refined and tightly integrated, the PC will be considered as a serious audio source. "The convergence of AV and IT will effectively bring the quality of lounge room audio to the PC," he said.

The other product making an entrance was Yamaha's CRW2100 - a rewritable CD driver capable of writing a 74 minute audio disc in five minutes. With CD rewritable units selling in the vicinity of 35 million by 2002, Crane predicts that next year will see it become a standard component in CPUs replacing CD readable only systems.

The vendor is also ready to rollout its DVD rewritable drivers, however Crane said the market lacks significant demand to make it economically feasible for another 12 months. "The market still hasn't decided which of the four DVD formats they are going to fly with so it's a little dangerous to invest too heavily in this sector at the moment," he said.

Surprisingly, the music manufacturer is steering clear of the up and coming Mp3 technology, a decision driven by prudence and the company's reluctance to encourage people to break the law. "Even the CRW2100 is making Yamaha a bit uncomfortable," said Crane.

The main thrust of Yamaha's offering will be as retail kits targeted at the consumer and retail sectors with 85 per cent of its sales pushed through its three IT distributors; Chips and Bits, Synnex and Guardian Data. Yamaha sells direct to Grace Bros, Harris Technology, Coles/Myer and Dick Smith.

Crane has approached local OEMs to examine the possibility of bundling Yamaha products, however the low-cost priority of the local white box market is proving a major stumbling block.

"It's difficult because the priority of the Australian white box market is keeping costs down," said Crane. "They either want to buy speakers bulk for $8 a piece or, if it's at the quality we provide, eight per order."

Agnes King travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Yamaha Australia

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