The specialist audio market in Japan is no longer making sweet music. According to the latest data released by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, annual domestic shipments of hi-fi equipped dropped to 1.89 million units in 2005 from a peak of 3.03 million units in 2000.
The sector has fallen from favour as interest in portable units, typified by the iPod, and MP3 music downloads, has boomed. 4.83 million portable digital music players were sold in Japan during the last nine months of 2005, and over half of them came from Apple.
In an effort to rekindle interest in living room hi-fi equipment, manufacturers are rushing to embrace iPod connectivity. Mainstream Japanese brands like Denon, JVC and Yamaha are all now promoting new systems with iPod connectivity and docks. Denon’s £80 ASD-1R (pictured), is not only an iPod dock/recharger, but has the ability to play iPod videos and photos on the TV.
It remains to be seen if this “if you can’t beat ’em, dock ’em” approach is enough to bring music back into the average Japanese home, and in turn, restore faith in large scale hi-fi equipment manufacturing.