August 2009 Archives

Last week Keith Robertson (Linn's software manager) and I went to Tokyo to introduce Cara and Kinsky Desktop.

Japan's an interesting market for DS, because the mass-market streaming devices aren't widely available. So Linn, in addition to the challenge of introducing DS to the Japanese market, is also introducing the idea of music streaming to many for the first time. In the early days of DS, we had this idea that because the Japanese are a technologically advanced society, they would embrace DS more than any other market. In fact, it's been the toughest market for us.

This realisation dawned on me early in 2008, some months after the launch of the Klimax DS, when we hadn't sold a single DS in Japan. So in February 2008, I spent a week in the presidential suite of the Palace Hotel, Tokyo demonstrating the Klimax DS. I must have made 50 presentations that week, mostly to press critics who sat with folded arms proclaiming: "This is not hi-fi!"

But eventually the Klimax DS and the other DS players we introduced started to sell, and gradually we've made progress with press, retailers and customers there.

Thankfully, Linn Japan managed to arrange that Keith and I make two presentations to press, in two groups of about 20 each. 18 months from that initially cold reception, understanding of DS in the Japanese press is now amongst the best in the world. One leading magazine, Hi-Vi,  has a 14-page DS special in its latest edition, with 4 critics presenting their DS (one Klimax, two with Akurate, one Majik) with block diagrams of their full system including video and networking components. 

I think the strongest impact of our presentation came from Keith's Kinsky Desktop demo, where he grabs an album cover and drops it into the PlayNow button and it plays instantly. 

It's my hope that the new simplicity of Cara and Kinsky Desktop opens Linn DS to the less tech-savvy people who want to enjoy the sound but without the hassle.