B&W 800 side view BW800 side view Blu-ray case A speaker factory

The word "meta" in English describes an abstraction from one concept from another that ultimately adds to the latter (source: Wikipedia definition). Meta Group's goal is to add value to the world of consumer electronics in ways both seen and that are unseen. So much goes into what makes a company relevant in the ever-changing world of technology. Even "needle in a haystack" success stories like Netflix and Blackberry can result in a quick fall from grace as Moore's Law seems slow when compared to the world of high technology. Companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple invest billions in their technological futures with success stories that range from winners like You Tube and Android phones to failures like the Zune, Windows based phones and or Mobile Me. There is no guarantee for success but you need to plan for success.

In the world of consumer electronics, one of the most stable but competitive businesses is the manufacture of loudspeakers. They are varied technologies and design philosophies for speaker design ranging from traditional dynamic speakers, ported loudspeakers, electrostatic and or hybrid electrostatic speakers, planar speakers, horn-loaded speakers and many others. Staying relevant in the speaker business isn't easy. Many companies look to outsourcing their cabinet design to China where today some of the finest speakers are made. This protects much needed profit margin and offers both low-cost labor as well as cutting-edge technologies like CNC machines, low-emissions paint bays and more. American made products still have cache with buyers but the cost and environmental impact of doing business in the states is something capitalist corporations must deal with. In small batches, speakers made in places like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom represent the finest products money can buy. The value products come from other parts of the world most specifically China.

Other consumer electronics components change faster than loudspeakers. Front video projectors are getting better and less expensive faster than flat HDTVs. This is great news to home theater enthusiasts but it has made life tough on brick and mortar retailers as well as specialty AV manufacturers. Profit margins have reduced thousands of dollars per set or projector to sometimes less than $100 in profit. This making HDTVs "white goods" or commodities that don't allow for much in professional salesmanship in today's market.

Blu-ray players are another market segment that struggle with the meta concept. Just a few years ago a black box AV component that spun a silver disc (call it DVD, SACD, video game disc or Blu-ray) could cost upwards of $2,000. Today, most cost under $200 and come packed with an entire suite of streaming audio-video technologies including streaming moves from the likes of CinemaNow, VuDu, Blockbuster, Netflix and more. Weather reports, web browsers and all sorts of other nifty apps can be downloaded (some at a price) from app stores. For $99, Apple offers its AppleTV which offers wireless access to your computer's music, movies and photos as well as Internet radio and much more. Simply put, the game is changing.

The speed at which the market is changing in the world of audio-video is mind boggling. It can be hard to keep up with at times. Proper strategy and planning is key. Even companies with upwards of $100,000,000,000 in the bank can't have a hit with every new technology. Careful investment is the meta group way. Vision for the future with careful investment makes for a sustainable consumer electronics company. Are headphones the wave of the future?