Another Montana company (Vanns) recently opened a brick and mortar electronics store called "The ON Store", which is roughly modeled on Apple stores and sells headphones and personal audio stuff, as well as various other computers and electronics. Their idea is to go into the mid-size markets where Apple doesn't have a brick and mortar presence. Their first store is in the Missoula mall, and by the look of it, it seems like it might work. We all know Apple stores are doing fine, but they're another thing all together.
I'm pretty sure the InMotion personal gadget store in airports are doing quite well. I talked to the sales people at a few of these on my recent trip to New York and they all claimed to sell $300 headphones (Beats Studio) quite regularly. But an airport is a captive audience, and the imperative to buy a pair of headphones after sitting next to a screaming baby on the last flight may be higher than normal.
The question, it seems to me, is do people think they have a problem buying headphones on-line that can be solved by going to a store at which they can hear the headphones? Will people easily understand why they want and need a headphone store? If a headphone store is to be successful, people have to "get it" easily.
There are other questions as well: Will they listen in the store, and then go shop on-line for the cheapest price? Is the category "Headphone Store" too narrow? Besides headphones and headphone amps, what other products should be carried in such a store? I'm curious about your thoughts on these thing as well as the poll results, feel free to vote and comment!
Microsoft is currently trying to beat up Motorola over use of the FAT file system in some current Droids, and just won a case in Germany forcing Motorola to remove product from shelves.
InnerFidelity runs on the Drupal open source content management system, which is configured to run on MySQL database management, Apache web server, and Linux OS, all free open source software solutions. Rockbox is a great little open source portable media player software. NwAvGuy's very competent O2 headphone amp design is offered under a Creative Commons open source-like license.
It's not that I have any anarchist or socialist motives here (though I do lean a little to the left), it just seems to me that big corporate developments may end up so hogtied with IP problems that open source projects may have a chance of catching up and exceeding the performance and adoption of corporate offerings. The price sure is right.
In addition to RockBox, I've used VortexBox as a home media server, it's not open source, per se, but it runs on Linux, which is part of the VortexBox distribution. My daughter's desktop is an Ubuntu Linux distribution, and she runs the Open Office software for her school work. Total software cost for her machine: $0.
So...will an open source model ever pass by the corporate model in number of installations? I'd love to hear about any open source audio stuff you use and your thoughts on the concept in general in the comments.