Understanding Chi-Fi

The Verge just published a fantastic piece titled The Wonderful World of Chinese Hi-Fi. This is a MUST-READ primer for anyone involved in the in-ear manufacturing world.

This article is Authorized by the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organziation

The In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization publishes unbiased educational articles about the use and benefits of in-ear monitors.

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December 11, 2019

Here's how The Verge article starts.

The phenomenon known as “Chi-fi” — a mashup of “Chinese” and “high-fidelity" is usually used to refer to portable audio gear — that come from essentially anonymous Chinese companies. It’s a twist on the strange shadow marketplace you enter when you search for something basic on Amazon (“iPhone case,” “boxer briefs”) and end up with pages upon pages of Chinese brands you’ve never heard of.

It only gets better from there. This article goes over the history and it names some of the companies that are involved and some of the companies that have been able to leverage this phenominum to grow their own unique recognizable brands.

Please read the whole feature by clicking through: 

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHINESE HI-FI

The article was meticulously researched by Dan Nosowitz with special thanks to Mike Klasco from Menlo Scientific.

HERE'S WHAT THE ARTICLE DOESN'T COVER

While Dan did an amazing job presenting the history of Chi-Fi and of explaining what it is, the questions that were not asked or covered might be even more interesting...

How does this trend effect consumers and established manufacturers. What is Chi-Fi actually doing to the marketplace? How does it affect IEMITO members?

Are the customers who are purchasing unknown Chi-Fi brands people who were going to buy from an established brand but then opted to go a more economical and untrusted route instead? Or are these customers who never would have bought a traditional IEM and this is their gateway into the technology funnel? 

Is it alwaysabout price? And how should established companies compete and articulate their value proposition? 

What role does the consumer have in protecting IP and in supporting R&D? 

These questions aren't rhetorical but they also don't have clear answers. It's up to us as an industry to to decide how to move forward because one thing is certain. This trend is here to stay. The term has moved away from the subreddits and is now entering pop culture lexicon. While The Verge is still mighty tech-centric, it is absolutely a mainstream glossy. It's worth noting that here's how The Verge describes themselves:

The Verge is an ambitious multimedia effort founded in 2011 to examine how technology will change life in the future for a massive mainstream audience.
Our original editorial insight was that technology had migrated from the far fringes of the culture to the absolute center as mobile technology created a new generation of digital consumers. Now, we live in a dazzling world of screens that has ushered in revolutions in media, transportation, and science. The future is arriving faster than ever.

.

The future is here. And Chi-Fi's not going to go away.

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