September 4, 2010 by Colin
New music format. Breakthroughs in portable music technology. A consumer products company effectively integrates technlogical innovation, industrial design and a novel user interface to break open a whole new market segment.
Of course, I’m talking about 1974 and a portable 8-track player.
Panasonic’s “Dynamite 8″ 8-Track player was a choice piece of consumer electronics with unprecendented music portability and a clean and bright modern design. It’s still sought after, the focus of bidding wars every time one appears on eBay.
Even better, the dealer prospectus promised a wide range of marketing support for this great new product: a big magazine buy (Seventeen, Hot Rod and other demographically appropriate pubs), four months’ worth of TV buys in the fall schedule, a full package of TV, radio and print templates for dealers, and an EARTH SHATTERING COUNTER DISPLAY.
And it wasn’t just 8-tracks – just look at the range of electronics Panasonic released as part of the same line: portable radios, phone handsets and alarm clocks.
But good design will only carry your product – and your company – so far. Especially if the underlying music format is inflexible. While the 8-Track format offered improved music portability, indexing and easy song selection, it still had its ass kicked by the cassette and the relatively messy but creatively inspired home mix tape.