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Need Fancy Wireless Audio Equipment? Sony and Best Buy Can Help

Sony, high-tech electronics giant, has just announced a partnership with Best Buy, U.S. retail giant, to produce a whole new audio product line. It sounds like an unusual pairing, but it looks like it's borne some pretty interesting fruit.

Sony Altus

The new line is dubbed Altus, and the companies' press release tells us that it's been over two years in the making, during which they've performed lots of market research and engineering. And all that public-sourced data informed Sony and Best Buy that what people would like is "a stylish assortment of wireless music systems, speakers, and home theater products."

The result is a pair of wireless iPod dock/speaker systems (one of which is pictured here), two wireless PC audio solutions that use a USB dongle to grab and transmit audio data from your machine to remote speakers, two plug-in wireless satellite speakers and the BDV-E500W Blu-ray home theater machine that can also connect to wired speakers, as well as provide multi-room playback for audio. They're all minimalist, with Sony's trademark stylish attention to design, and prices range from around $350 for the plug-in speakers to $800 for the Blu-ray disc home theater box.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole line-up is the unusual partnership. According to Sony's EVP Mike Fasulo it's "something that both Sony and Best Buy can be proud to call their own." Best Buy's EVP of customer operating groups, Mike Vitelli, notes "by working with Sony throughout the product development process, we were able to focus directly on our customer." That's really what it's all about—Best Buy has a vast and deep understanding of its customer base, given the massive amounts of analysis it has to perform on its customer behavior to stay on top of its business. And by crafting a tailor-made solution for Best-Buy, Sony's obviously hoping it'll achieve greater sales figures than if it just launched its own product. On the face of it, it seems like a pretty logical step...and one that must've been tightly managed throughout—the danger of this sort of long-term committee-like design process is that one ends up with a camel instead of a racehorse.