Perhaps hidden in the commotion that is CES were two relatively important stories directly affecting the CEDIA channel. The first news was that Paradigm developed its first consumer-direct product line in an effort to court the next generation of speaker customers, and the second bit of news was that Universal Electronics Inc. was phasing out its Nevo line of handheld remote controls.
First the Paradigm news. Have no fear, this Canadian purveyor of sweet-sounding audio gear is abandoning neither the high-end nor the specialty AV retail channel. The company simply sees the writing on the wall that says the younger demographic of potential customers doesn’t know Paradigm as a brand. Therefore, the company announced its new brand, called Paradigm Shift, aimed at this younger audience and those with a focus on exceptional audio solutions for personal audio, PCs, and gaming.
The new brand will target mobile music consumers and modern gamers with a focus on enhanced audio quality for products in four different categories including powered speakers, earbuds, headphones, and gaming headsets.
At CES, the company unveiled the new brand and provided prototype demonstrations of the first product in the new line, the new Paradigm Shift Active Atom, otherwise known as the A2.
The new A2 is a powered bookshelf/tabletop speaker designed to be used alone or as a left/right audio system or in stereo pairs with other devices such as iPods and other music players, desktop computers, home DJ decks, videogame consoles and so much more.
The A2 is bi-amped with 100 watts of power per speaker and designed and engineered to the exacting standards that Paradigm products are known. The A2 can be used with any devices that have a 3.5-mm mini-jack or RCA outputs or for wireless streaming. the A2 has a built-in interface on the rear panel for Airport Express. The A2 has an estimated US FMV of $249/each US and an expected availability of spring 2011.
The UEI booth at CES 2011
The other bit of somewhat more depressing news was the demise of another line of remote controls that once catered to the CEDIA channel. I spoke with the executive and sales/marketing team for UEI, during CES, and learned that while UEI will remain a strong player in the OEM of remote controls to cable and satellite set-top box companies, it simply could no longer make a case for its increasingly outdated, and overpriced Nevo handheld remotes.
The change most affected CI distribution firm DDG who was terminated as the primary outlet for Nevo, to be replaced by smaller regional distributors who will sell out and service what remains of the Nevo inventory.
I also was told that the company might return to Nevo’s roots by selling its operating system as a core home control app within the plethora of tablet PCs and smart phones with whom UEI already has strong ties.
We shall see. Good news is that UEI as a company isn’t dead (only a few cut backs), the bad news is that the idea of exclusive products like Nevo in our channel is fading fast.