Outlaw 978 officially dead - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Just received the email from the Outlaws. Their Chinese production partner has cancelled the project very near completion due to conflicts with other unnamed production partners in North America who consider Outlaw a competitor. Jeesh!!!!
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post #2 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:23 AM
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I just received the same Email.
The Outlaw Email also stated they hope to have a "Less Featured" processor available before the end of the year.
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post #3 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:24 AM
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Full Email for those who may be interested...

Dear ,

As you may know, we have been developing the Model 978 processor as a successor to the Model 990 for quite some time. Unfortunately, we have some disappointing news.

The Model 978 processor project has been suddenly and unilaterally cancelled by our development partner/factory in China and consequently, all work on this project has ceased. Given the length of time that many of you have been waiting for the Model 978 we owe you an explanation as to what happened.

With progress on this product moving too slowly for all of us, we assigned Scott Jackson, our Sales Manager, to work directly with the factory in an effort to speed things up. Scott first visited the factory in January, and was able to resolve many issues. With the success of the first trip, Scott anticipated accelerating the project through to completion during a second trip to China last month.

Indeed, during this second visit great progress was made. Audyssey MultEQ XT32 was now fully working, the video and audio subsystems were fully functioning, the HDMI system had passed pre-certification testing, and the Model 978 was ready to be submitted for formal approvals. The factory's engineering department invited Scott to return again in July to help resolve the few remaining issues raised by our beta testers.

At the last minute, Scott's return to Boston was delayed when the factory's management asked for additional time in order to share the results of a meeting that was just held with one of their largest customers. As we soon learned, the purpose of this meeting was to address this customer's objection to the factory's decision to build products for companies that they considered "competitors." For the record, this customer, headquartered in North America, is NOT an Internet-direct company and its brands and products are sold through conventional "brick and mortar" dealers. For that reason, the factory did not view Outlaw as a direct competitor to this customer and therefore joined with Outlaw in the development of the Model 978.

During this meeting the factory's management informed Scott that this specific customer had made it clear, on a non-negotiable basis, that building either a receiver or processor for certain companies they perceived as competitors was "not acceptable." Outlaw was near the top of this short list and as a result all work on the Outlaw branded processor by the factory had to be cancelled immediately. To say that Scott, myself, and the rest of the Outlaws were stunned by this decision is an understatement.

Over the last few weeks we have exhausted every avenue to find a path that would preserve the Model 978 platform. These options included the possibility of purchasing the PCB layout files, firmware, and software from the factory in order to finish the development process and build this processor elsewhere. Unfortunately, we were informed by the factory that such a transfer would not be possible. This is due in part to the nature of our agreements with the factory, as well as the intense pressure on the factory from this customer. Every alternative solution we presented was ultimately rejected by our now former partner/factory.

For those of you who are Star Trek fans, this is our own "Kobayashi Maru" - a problem for which there is no known solution.

We realize that this is not the first Outlaw product that hasn't made it to the market. As many of you may remember, we cancelled the Model 997 processor once we realized that it would not work properly. In that case, the platform suffered from a combination of architecture and software issues. Our decision to cancel was validated by the relative failure of the Sherwood R972, the A/V receiver based on that platform.

By contrast, in this case the factory's unilateral cancellation of the Model 978 is a totally different story. This development project was a collaborative effort between the factory and Outlaw, with the critical parts and circuits chosen and designated by us, including the addition of our proprietary phono preamp circuit. Our goal from the outset was to design and build a unit that would be an extraordinarily strong performer, capable of competing sonically with the very best processors available. In addition, we took into account the constructive feedback from members of the Saloon, such as the inclusion of the Audyssey MultEQ XT32.

This product represented the best thinking of the entire Outlaw team. With all of the time, energy and collaborative effort invested to-date, the idea of not having this flagship processor in our arsenal is extremely difficult to accept, especially since it was so close to completion.

Given the nature of Internet-direct businesses, we expect that this news will resonate across the chat rooms and forums, along with the conspiracy theories that tend to accompany such things. We also realize that there may be a certain amount of hostility by some, and perhaps the clinking of champagne glasses on the part of others. Regardless of whatever postings or rumors appear, the events are as described above.

Most importantly, it is not our intent to ask anyone to hang on for a replacement for the Model 978 as the quick development of a product with that level of complexity is simply not realistic. We are reviewing all possible options, but any decisions on another high-end processor will take time as the leading edge of advanced technology moves very quickly.

While this situation is the result of industry political considerations that were totally outside of our control, we deeply apologize to those of you who have waited for this product and have kept the faith.

At Outlaw we are all, of course, extremely frustrated. At the end of the day, a "perfect storm" of conditions negated virtually all of the efforts of the entire Outlaw team. However, our resolve has never been stronger or more focused than it is right now. We are continuing to investigate all avenues for replacing the Model 978 and are aggressively pursuing other products that are already under development.

To that point, we offer the following: While we do NOT have a substitute for the Model 978 at this time, there is another processor in the works which we quietly started with a different development partner and factory last fall. In comparison to the Model 978, this is an entry level processor that is simple to operate and it is targeted at our budget-minded customers. It not only covers the basics and a bit more, from a sonic perspective this new processor will be an over-achiever.

During Scott's recent trip to China he visited this second factory to monitor the project's progress. He was pleased to report that the processor was actually ahead of schedule. While we planned to remain quiet about this processor until it was closer to completion, the accelerated schedule allows us to tip our hand a bit earlier than scheduled. Originally slated for introduction in the first quarter of 2013, if all continues to go well, we will ship this unit sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

Once again, we apologize to those who were eagerly anticipating delivery of the Model 978 as we are keenly aware of the frustration you have endured while waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for this product. Please be assured that we have exhausted every possible alternative to find a way to deliver this processor to our customers. Ultimately, there could be no contingency plan in place for this unpredictable situation that was entirely due to factors outside of our control. While there is no denying that this has been a setback, we are more determined than ever to providing you with a number of great new products in the near future.

Sincerely,
Peter Tribeman
President, Outlaw Audio
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post #4 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Can you say "snake-bitten"? It's a shame.
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post #5 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:29 AM
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Snake bitten? For sure.

Personally I gave up on Outlaw over 2 years ago.
I upgraded my Outlaw 990 to an Onkyo 886 and haven't looked back since.

In today's quickly evolving technical space... it's nearly impossible for a small company like Outlaw to
keep pace at a affordable price point.
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post #6 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:40 AM
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The 978 would have had a strong following for a few years. It is truly a terrible outcome of a promising product (although in the making for years). I wish Outlaw the best with their future processor line. This has to be terribly frustrating for Outlaw Audio and customers that were anticipating the 978. I wish Outlaw the best in their next steps.
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post #7 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptlurking View Post

Snake bitten? For sure.
Personally I gave up on Outlaw over 2 years ago.
I upgraded my Outlaw 990 to an Onkyo 886 and haven't looked back since.
In today's quickly evolving technical space... it's nearly impossible for a small company like Outlaw to
keep pace at a affordable price point.

Same here. I went from HK receivers as pre/pros to the Onkyo 885 and feel exactly the same. Every time I think of upgrading, one look around at my sorely untreated space makes me say why? What benefit? So I stand pat.

Then again...maybe I'm just cheap. smile.gif
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post #8 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ClarkeBar View Post

Just received the email from the Outlaws. Their Chinese production partner has cancelled the project very near completion due to conflicts with other unnamed production partners in North America who consider Outlaw a competitor. Jeesh!!!!

Who could that be? D+M Group (i.e., Denon, Marantz, McIntosh, Boston Acoustics, et al.)?
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post #9 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Obviously someone too big to offend business-wise.

I'm sure Chinese contract law is fairly Wild West. The big gun wins.
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post #10 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightenrock View Post

Who could that be? D+M Group ?

Sherwood? They have had similarities to other previous Outlaw products.

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post #11 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:35 AM
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Sherwood? They have had similarities to other previous Outlaw products.

But they're a Korean company: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherwood_%28company%29
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post #12 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:37 AM
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I gave up the 978 long time ago . seemed like Vaporware then & now this ? I got the same email as well .
Wonder Who dropped the Hammer on them ? The Marantz group ?
When are these small direct internet sales companies gonna learn to build in the USA ? I you can't control your own manufactoring process then you are doomed to this type of actions when you bring a successful idea to the control of outside forces that deem you as a threat .By not owning the PCB plans , that was really a HUGE BAD idea . Squash these outlaw bugs & steal their game plan is the Chinese way .
I don't mean to sound harsh , but Really Outlaw didn't see this coming ??eek.gif

The pre-pro market has few products out there now , Any New Pro-Pro that hits the market soon will the one that Hammered Outlaw .................

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post #13 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:43 AM
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D+M is a Japanese holding company, not North American, although they do have one or two subsidiaries still in the States -- McIntosh, for example.

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post #14 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petew View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightenrock View Post

Who could that be? D+M Group ?

Sherwood? They have had similarities to other previous Outlaw products.
The previously planned Outlaw pre/pro was based on the same design as the Sherwood receiver. If they didn't object then, it seems unlikely they'd object now.

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post #15 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

D+M is a Japanese holding company, not North American, although they do have one or two subsidiaries still in the States -- McIntosh, for example.

My bad. Well what competitor is headquartered in the US and has products sold in brick and mortar stores? I'm baffled.
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post #16 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:54 AM
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something smells fishy on this Tuna Boat ... frown.gif

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JAZZ IS NOT DEAD IT JUST SMELLS FUNNY ; FRANK ZAPPA
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post #17 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

D+M is a Japanese holding company, not North American, although they do have one or two subsidiaries still in the States -- McIntosh, for example.

Their website says that their global headquarters is in New Jersey: http://www.dmglobal.com/Pages/Home.aspx
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post #18 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:03 AM
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I'd like to know what company feels Outlaw is a threat to them. I greatly prefer when competition is won on the court, but some people find sabotage in the locker room to be an easier route. Beating Outlaw by designing a better product would have been respectable.

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post #19 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:31 AM
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Dead! Kaputsky! I for one was really looking forward to this product. Regardless, of contractual agreements this is a prime example of what happens when you climb into bed with the Chinese. The only law that matters is that of the mighty buck.
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post #20 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:38 AM
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The email states "North America".
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post #21 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:45 AM
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I would have liked to see Outlaw bring that processor to market. I own several Outlaw products and I am a supporter of the Internet only business model. Having said that, how many times have we seen the Chinese manufacturing industry borrow lessons from one business partner to use for another partner with competing (often knock off) products. They can't have it both ways. You pick a partner and all development work on products should be treated as intellectual property, it should be in the contract and there should be non-compete clauses. It is really bad business ethics for the Chinese company to lead Outlaw down the path when they should have declined the business originally.
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post #22 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:49 AM
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North American companies could be Bose (doubt it for this product though) or Anthem (a possible suspect). There are others, I am sure.

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post #23 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:49 AM
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The email states "North America".


Anthem?
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post #24 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:50 AM
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I forgot Harman (another suspect).

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post #25 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:56 AM
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Got the Same e-mail.

Outlaw carries Marantz products, so i dont think it would be them. In the e-mail they say North American headquartered company. Outlaw is an American company. I would think that if the manufacturer was from America, they would only say America, but they said North America, which can imply that the headquarters is in Canada. That said, it pushes it towards Anthem i would think.

just my 2 cents
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post #26 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 09:58 AM
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Well when you outsource I guess that's what happens. Sucks but I'll still buy their subs. I have two.
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post #27 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 10:01 AM
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NAD is a possibility?
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post #28 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 10:16 AM
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Well when you outsource I guess that's what happens.


More like when you don't outsource well. Outlaw have an expensive learning experience on their hands.
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post #29 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 10:38 AM
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More like when you don't outsource well
OR let a contract manufacturer design your PCB Then have said contractor inform your competition what your placing in the market , have it squashed by a outside entity. I can't fathom why Outlaw would not control the data plans for their own PCB's , that is a Huge misstep on their part.
When you get in bed with the Chinese ,you better be wearing protection it would seem ....wink.gif

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post #30 of 121 Old 07-18-2012, 11:11 AM
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China does this all the time, and on a much larger scale. When you dance with the devil, the devil leads.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the 978 turn up with someone else's name on the box within a year.

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