By Patrick Avenell
Pioneer is in the process of adjusting its distribution strategy, with sales through specialist retailers expected to be cut by one-third as sales through retail chains and new customers increase.
Up to 2011, Pioneer's consumer distribution was broadly split into three parts: 65 per cent retail chains, 30 per cent specialists and 5 per cent new retails customers. In 2011, retail chains and new customers will grow, at the expense of specialists, which will reduce to 20 per cent.
Chris Kotis, who led the presentation at Pioneer's audio launch in the Blue Mountains today, said these new customers included Apple's retail stores, with the Cupertino monolith a recurring subject at the press conference.
So influential is Apple on Pioneer's new range and thinking, banners adorned the stage detailing Pioneer and Apple's 16-year partnership.
Pioneer, like virtually all electronics companies, has had iPod docks for some time, but today marked the launch of high-end, high price point, "entertainment hub" receivers with Apple AirPlay technology.
Pioneer group product and marketing manager Tony Trent said the AV receiver is currently suffering from an image problem, with the unit needing a Madonna-style reinvention to sustain its popularity with consumers. Part of this process is to reimagine the humble, mostly unexciting, device as an "entertainment hub" in the home.
Pioneer has incorporated AirPlay into six new receivers due in 2011. Coming in July are the VSX-921 (RRP $1,099), VSX-1021 (RRP $1,299) and VSX-2021 (RRP $1,799). Coming in October 2011 will be the VSX-LX55 (RRP $1,999), SC-LX75 (RRP $2,499) and SC-LX85 (RRP $3,499).
These receivers will be able to stream music from iTunes running on a Mac or PC, plus music from iPhones, iPads and iPods Touch.
Further features of the VSX921, one of the first new AirPlay receivers to be released, include 7.1 channel, 150W output, DLNA and Wi-Fi readiness. There's also video support through cables, with users able to play video content on their iPad or iPhone through the receiver then onto a TV. Trent said video is not supported over AirPlay.
The new Pioneer VSX921, due in July 2011.
And the reverse of the VSX921, where you can see all the different inputs.