Yamaha is launching 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 yesterday, Geoff Crane, manager of multimedia products for Yamaha Australia, said that the traditionally conservative manufacturer of musical instruments and audio products was exploring alternative channels to push its range in the narrow Australian market.
"To extend 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 is Yamaha's CRW2100 - a rewritable CD driver capable of writing a 74 minute audio disc in five minutes. With CD rewritable units predicted to sell 35 million by 2002, Crane believes they will become a standard component in CPUs next year, replacing CD readable only systems.
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 also 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 whitebox market is proving a major stumbling block.
"It's difficult because the priority of the Australian whitebox market is keeping costs down," said Crane. "They either want to buy speakers [in] bulk for $8 a piece or, if it's [for] the quality we provide, eight per order."
Agnes King traveled to Melbourne as a guest of Yamaha Australia.