Re: [AH] the analog synth business situation...

From Kevin Lightner
Sent Mon, Jan 4th 1999, 22:16

>If you based your marketing research on AH feedback I'm not surprised you
>lost interest.  We are the cheap geeks, the cheapest there is.  however,
>that said, if Doepfer can  produce a knob box with 64 knobs on it for under
>$500 and really closer to $400 you should be able to produce an M6
>Programmer for something less.  I think the problem you faced has more to do
>with the garage company manufacturing limitations than anything else.  It's
>very difficult to obtain the cost reductions required to manufacture such a
>labor intensive device as a knob laden programmer when you are a very small

I'm not sure if I'm misinterpreting this, but Doepfer and (previously)
Gibson/Oberheim are two very different entities. Gibson has a very large
installed base of dealers compared to Doepfer and more money to do R&D.
Despite this, Doepfer is making analogs and now Oberheim apparently isn't.
The general musical public is Gibsons market and for good or bad, they want
digital now. It sells.
The niche that is AH or Doepfer's customers is comparatively small.
What's happening now appears to be a product of the overhead necessary to
manage either corporation. Doepfer is small, but doesn't need to answer to
so many people with their hands out.
Profitable returns on investments is where a large corporation like Gibson
wants to be.
It's one of the same reasons why Roland didn't rerelease the TB303, but
made the MC303 instead.
They could have made the original over again and so many don't understand
why they didn't.
But when you compare more expensive manufacturing techniques with a smaller
perceived market, you don't repeat the past.

>>Al Pearlman of ARP said it best: we all love the music business, but in the
>>end it proved to be unrequited love.
>Al made some stupid marketing decisions, that's what killed ARP, not his
>unrequited love for the music business.

On this point, I disagree. (my opinion only)

Al was an engineer and while it was his company, his vice president David
Friend was attributed with much of Arp's poor marketing and R&D later.
David was a businessman, but not as much of an engineer. In the end, David
couldn't deliver what he thought he could because his decisions were
marketing based and not technology based. He ended up having a great name
like ARP, great clients, but poorly designed products with no cash and no
time left to fix them.
Al might have made smaller waves, but may not have drowned so quickly had
he not had his "Friend".