One thing consolidators know how to do is to cut, cut, cut and D&M Holdings has done just that as they just announced that they will be dumping the Snell speaker line and the Escient line of media servers. The news comes as the company reported its profits and heads into a new fiscal year in a slowly improving global economy.
Snell, as a brand, has a storied history and today still has ties to legendary speaker designer Joe D'Appolito. The brand's high end audiophile approach to speaker-making didn't really catch on with today's flat HDTV driven speaker market.
Escient was a brand more designed for success in the new world of AV convergence. With Apple owning the full distribution chain and offering affordable, easy to use products on the low end - it was tough to compete. On the high end, Kalidescape once dominated the custom installation market with their pricey, standard definition video server. Today, with legal questions pending and no HD content being served on an $8,000 plus K-scape server - some installers and industry pundits are questioning if K-scape is next to bow out behind Escient. This is unlikely as Kalidescape's founders are well funded and willing to take their legal battle as far as it goes.
D&M still has a mighty portfolio of product lines including Denon, Marantz, McIntosh and Boston Acoustics. During the tough economic times this company, like many other consolidators in the AV business, has pulled away from consumer marketing almost completely. No brands are guaranteed success going forward as new players like Apple and new distribution chains like Costco, Wal-mart and online retailers are changing the landscape. It's an all-new game with new consumer attitudes and buying habits. The days of big-box brick and mortars carrying a billion dollars in brand are over. So are the days of leaning on custom installers to "push" products.
In discussing Snell with an industry insider, this person suggested that the brand would be perfect for selling online; however D&M also recently closed their "The Speaker Company" brand which was selling generic, Asian-made loudspeakers in an online speaker marketplace already dominated by Aperion Audio, Orb Audio and others who aggressively market beyond simple SEO. Don't be surprised to see others in the AV business try to make a play for Snell, as its brand equity still carries some value. With drastically lower prices, a new distribution model and products designed for today's AV needs, it could be revived. See NHT as an recent example of a speaker company rebirth.