Ok, this is likely to be contentious but perhaps partners my thread on home demos.
Naim and all other hi-fi companies have to adapt to the times.
Hi-fi aspiration is no longer a rite of passage for youngsters who are often more than happy with wireless earphones/headphones from what might be regarded as mediocre sources.
Now that most consumers stream music rather than buy physical media, is there a market or viable business model for renting hi-fi as there was with TVs in the 70’s when they were comparatively more expensive.
Businesses seem increasingly to rely on subscription models - most mobile phones are on ‘contracts’ - I’ve tended to buy outright, perhaps more fool me.
Consider Roon, they put up their lifetime purchase price and may remove the option as they want a regular revenue stream from annual subscriptions.
Would there be commercial appetite perhaps for high end audio products on a rental basis I wonder? Companies could get a regular revenue stream from those likely to change tech based products frequently which would be ideal for streaming platforms in a state of rapid flux.
If there were no automatic option to ‘own’ once out of contract I could imagine a healthy secondhand market for items 2-3 years old, especially those which were current as many classic designs are.
All hypothetical I suspect but does the hi-fi industry need some kind of radical business model to survive away from lifestyle level products?
As with television rentals of old, it was a rental company rather than the manufacturer who did the rentals. So I think it would be up to a rental company to source the products and offer them for rent. Naim and other manufacturers might be interested in supplying hifi at a bulk buy rate, ut I can’t see Naim doing the rentals themselves.
Some years ago a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he promptly went out and bought an expensive sports car that he could not afford with the help of the dealer’s finance scheme.
But it turned out that his cancer wasn’t as terminal as the doctors expected and two years later he had to sell his house and move somewhere much cheaper to be able to afford the car loan. He died in penury, still with his sports car, undriven recently, parked outside in the road.
This may be too far off-topic, but I was reminded of him and his situation by this thread.
Naturally not the kind of thing anyone ought to contemplate if unable to keep up payments, though how did he feel about it? Was the dream car experience worth the other compromises to lifestyle and estate?
I wonder if rather than a rental model, if a leasing scheme similar to they type that many people use to purchase cars might be more appropriate, especially if there was an option to buy at the end of the lease?
If there were a potentially profitable business model in it, it would already have been done. The reason the TV rental model worked was that it was a new technology, the market was growing rapidly and would be enormous, the sets were expensive and there was a ‘fear factor’ over the possibility of product failure. There was also a reliable market for ‘refurbished’ units.
That didn’t prevent the business model from going under once the market matured.
Hi-fi is a mature and much smaller market and it is not growing. Unlike cars, there is no reliable ‘end of lease’ market structure on which to base a viable enterprise.
Good summary - but could it work? Most people new to hi-fi start at the lower end and work up - it’s a small market, what if you could capture that small percentage that aspire to much better for a monthly fee?
I don’t see the idea working, but then I am not a renting type of person - I didn’t understand the TV rental in the 70s (it was cheaper to buy!) nor house rental. Rental to me is only relevant for short term, such as car or villa for a holiday or other temporary situation. Perhaps that suggests a different angle: offering system rental for, say one to three months, for people to assess if it is what they want.