When Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod Hi-Fi in late February, he compared the quality and price to the JBL and Bose iPod speaker systems. The next claim from Apple was that the iPod Hi-Fi could replace high-end AV systems from companies like Denon — a statement that left many, including Denon executives, scratching their heads.
“It is sort of confusing why they would throw it up against an AV receiver that was not made for the iPod,” Jeff Talmadge Marketing Manager Denon Electronics, told Macworld. “To be honest, no we will not be changing our strategy and we won’t redo our product planning because of this.”
Unlike the iPod Hi-Fi, JBL and Bose systems, the Denon receivers do not need an iPod to work. Denon has included support for the iPod and other music devices to work with its receivers, but they can function independently of those devices, as well.
“It’s a cool gadget and it has its demographic, but it seems that Apple wants a bigger slice of the accessories pie,” said Talmadge. “This is their way of competing against Bose and Klipsch.”
While Apple boasts of the lower price of the iPod Hi-Fi, Denon talked about the advanced features its systems bring to consumers. By adding support for devices like the iPod, Denon believes they are giving their customers added value.
“It [the Denon system] will provide so much more for the home theatre environment because of its onscreen metadata information, photo capabilities and video pass-through from the iPod that Apple’s Hi-Fi doesn’t do,” said Talmadge. “When our $1000 receiver comes out, you’ll be able to send the iPod sound to a second zone and control it with our remote control. The video output will send video and photos to the second zone, as well. We take it to a different level.”
Apple views the iPod Hi-Fi as a device with the quality to compete against high-end products at a mid-range price. Denon doesn’t see their systems competing against iPod accessory products at all.
Talmadge said that he has used some of the iPod accessory speaker systems and that “they are all great systems for what they were designed to do.” He also said that he was looking forward to trying out the iPod Hi-Fi.
“They announce new products better than anyone else,” said Talmadge. “I look forward to every report after Steve Jobs gets up on stage, because he is great at it.”
Unphased by the comparison to the iPod Hi-Fi, Talmadge said Denon would continue to expand its products to include technologies that will make the systems better for their target audience. As an example of this Talmadge said they would be introducing a new iPod compatible docking station that will connect to every new receiver they make from here on out.
The company is also looking at USB and Ethernet ports for their receivers to help customers access all of their media. “We are looking at all of the avenues where people have media,” said Talmadge.
As far as the iPod Hi-Fi is concerned, Denon is not concerned. They see Apple’s claims as a bit of a stretch when it comes to competing with higher-end systems.
“It was a grandiose statement that was made and maybe we should be flattered that they picked us, but it’s a completely different animal,” said Talmadge. “It shows that we are respected as one of the best sounding systems on the market.”