Marketing the amp
I think discussion thus far has been concentrated (predictably) on the consumer's perception of what we are planning to do and where it may/may not fit into the marketplace. But that really is only one side of the equation. We have to give at least equal weight to the supply side and the distribution process. In a mature consumer society there are no completely unique products carving out market segments for themselves. It's almost all been seen or done a hundred times before in various guises. Even the new Apple iPad has competitors. So a new amplifier in a mature market already supplied by thousands or models and brands needs to either behave (function) differently (which it won't) or to be targeted at a sub-sector of the amplifier buying community (which it will) or it won't sell.
I wish I could condense a marketing degree plus thirty years experience into a few words about demography and consumption, but I can't. The subject is just too wide ranging. Can we just say that we have a good handle on what this product will do and who will buy it. It is not, as you correctly point out, a core product, nor will it consume (much) of Harbeth's precious management time. It is somewhat at arms-length and it needs to be. I believe that we have one of the best worked-through marketing strategies in the audio industry and I feel confident that extending this to cover an amplifier (or whatever) is brand enhancing - to our target market.
I stress (yet again - please read this carefully!) we will not be promoting the amplifier on (meaningless) sonic grounds! If you want to believe that it sounds better than brand X - great! But you will find nothing in the forthcoming Harbeth promotional literature that makes claims about it's sonic superiority. We are not targeting a consumer who needs deep reassurance about the amp's sonic abilities since we do not ourselves have the means of objective evaluation of sonic performance. We just don't want to 'get into' that scene.
Does that clarify the situation? I really do want to put the sonics issue to bed once and for all. If I uses it to design and listen then, for the target consumer, that will be endorsement enough. It will not be enough for any other non-target user, who by definition, we are not interested in or ever likely to sell to.
Alan /Back in the UK
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK