Music
Oh no, Pono! Hi-res player struggles to expand market

Neil Young’s high-resolution audio player Pono opened the eyes — and ears — of the consumer electronics industry to the promise of portable audio that featured audio fidelity superior to that of a CD. With a campaign that included a barrage of music legends offering their endorsement, the project attracted more than $6 million on Kickstarter. But even campaigns that attract millions of dollars can find that crowdfunded largesse can get them only so far, particularly after suffering a healthy dose of anti-hype for the $400 gadget.

Now, according to a Facebook post by Pono guiding light Neil Young in which he notes the company’s primary business partners, the company is facing challenges as it attempts “doing what only one giant corporation has been able to do before” (presumably Apple in integrating iPod and iTunes).” He continues, “Today we are trying to set up stores in multiple countries and are restricted by a lack off resources. This is our highest priority. As soon as we have the funds, those stores will open.”

Young, who opens the post by calling Pono a labor of love, notes that the effort has only one venture capital investor behind it (although some musicians are investors) and that the company is currently without a CEO. However, he notes that Pono has already fared better than many successfully funded Kickstarter projects. Indeed, a return to crowdfunding campaigns may be in the offing as Young reveals that Pono is moving into headphones and speakers as well as “more exciting breakthrough products.”

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