Aiwa
アイワ
OwnerTowada Audio
Aiwa Acquisitions LLC (North America)
Audio Mobile Americas A.S. (Latin America)
CountryJapan
Introduced1951; 73 years ago (1951)
MarketsConsumer electronics
Previous owners
WebsiteAiwa Electronics International Co., Ltd. (Global Business Headquarter)

Aiwa Co., Ltd. (Japan)

Aiwa Acquisitions LLC (United States)

Aiwa (eye-WAH, stylised aiwa) is a Japanese consumer electronics brand of Aiwa Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Towada Audio holdings. The current company was established in 2017 and creates mainly audio products; the brand is also licensed to or owned by other companies in different regions of the world, producing various electronics.[1]

The original Aiwa company was founded in 1951 and was one of the leading creators of audio products such as speakers, boomboxes and stereo systems.[2] After stagnating in the latter half of the 1990s, Aiwa was merged into Sony in 2002 and then unsuccessfully relaunched as a low-cost brand until discontinuation by 2008. Aiwa was relaunched as an independent company in Japan in 2017 by Towada, two years after it was first revived by an American firm.

Name and logo history

In Japanese the Aiwa name is a combination of 愛 (ai) and 環 (wa), roughly meaning "circle of love".

Original Aiwa company (1951-2002)

Aiwa Co., Ltd.
アイワ株式会社(初代法人)
TYO: 6761
FoundedJune 20, 1951
DefunctDecember 1, 2002
HeadquartersTaito, Tokyo, Japan
Number of employees
10,000 (as of March 2001)[3]
ParentSony Corporation (52% (1969–1982), 54.6% (1982–2002))[4]
Website-

The company was founded on June 20, 1951, as AIKO Denki Sangyo Co., Ltd., manufacturing microphones, and changed its name to Aiwa Co., Ltd. (アイワ株式会社), on March 10, 1959.[5] The founder Mitsuo Ikejiri served as president until 1969[citation needed] when Sony purchased a majority share in Aiwa.[6] The electronics giant had by 1982 a 54.6% stake in the company, effectively giving it a majority control.[7] Aiwa was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange from October 1961 until September 2002.

The company was a leading manufacturer of audio products, including headphone stereos, minicomponent stereo systems, portable stereo systems, minidisc players, CD and cassette players, and car stereo systems throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.[8][9] Despite not having the brand recognition of Sony, Aiwa products were popular due to its more affordable cost, while still providing good quality.[10][11]

Dual band transistor radio by Aiwa, circa 1964

Aiwa created the first Japanese cassette tape recorder in 1964.[12] Aiwa marketed Japan's first boombox, the TPR-101, in 1968, as well as the first cassette deck, TP-1009. In 1980, Aiwa created the world's first personal stereo recorder, TP-S30 (marketed as CassetteBoy in Japan). Despite Sony being the major shareholder, healthy competition between the two brands was believed to be profitable.[13] It had also released the first cassette deck with Dolby C in its home country.[10] In 1990, Aiwa created the HP-J7 earbuds, designed to be vertically inserted into the ear. In 1993, the first CD+G-compatible portable CD player, the XP-80G, was made.[citation needed]

Aiwa home audio products incorporating BBE signal-processing technology were launched in about 1989, after the company signed a licensing deal with BBE Sound.[14] Also around this time, some Aiwa products were briefly being sold in Japan under the Excelia and Strasser sub-brands.[15]

Mid-1980s AIWA HS-P05 Mk II audio cassette player

With growing competition throughout the late 1990s from cheaper Asian manufacturers, and shrinking demand for its products, the company slid towards bankruptcy.[16] In March 2001, the company's president, Masayoshi Morimoto, announced a major restructuring, including the halving of its workforce, following a second consecutive loss–making year. It also announced the closure of all but one of its manufacturing plants, including all in its home country.[17]

Other products

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Apart from audio products, Aiwa also has been present in other industries. The company also made and sold video products such as VCRs, color televisions, DVD players, and digital satellite television tuners. Aiwa was also involved in the production of computer peripheral devices, such as modems, terminal adapters, and speakers, and what the company termed "life amenity products," such as air cleaners and humidifiers. In 1995, it released a PHS mobile phone, called the PT-H50, which was made for the DDI Pocket network in Japan.[18] That same year, an electric toothbrush, the HA-C10, was released.[citation needed]

Sales and manufacturing

Aiwa F810 cassette deck, circa 1991/2

Nearly 86 percent of company revenues were derived from such audio products. 12 percent came from products such as televisions and VCRs, and the remaining two percent from computer peripherals and other life products.[citation needed]

Aiwa manufactured more than 89 percent of its output outside Japan, with a heavy emphasis on the lower-cost southeast Asian nations of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The company was also heavily dependent on overseas sales, with more than 80 percent of total revenues being generated outside Japan, with 43 percent in North and South America, 25 percent in Europe, and 13 percent in areas of Asia outside Japan and in other regions.[citation needed]

Acquisition by Sony

The troubled company was then fully purchased by Sony Corporation,[19] becoming a wholly owned subsidiary effective as of December 1, 2002.[20][21] On January 8, 2003,[22] Sony announced the rebranding and relaunch of Aiwa as a "youth focused, PC-centric" electronics brand.[23] A new logo was presented to the world's media along with a statement of Sony's intention to invest in and "revitalize" the Aiwa brand. The direction proposed was to capitalize on the growing trend among personal-computer-literate teenagers and young adults to use their PCs for all forms of entertainment (television, films, music, chat).[citation needed] It was also used to expand in markets where Sony is not as strong.[24]

Aiwa XR-FD55 CD and MD micro system, c. 2002

Aiwa introduced its first digital audio players at CES 2004, including both flash players and a 2GB hard disk player. They notably supported MP3 format while Sony's own branded players only played ATRAC.[25] Aiwa's portable CD players were equipped with a so-called E.A.S.S. G.P. (Electronic Anti-Shock System) feature with the aim of allowing smooth, skip-free Audio CD playback despite of damaged media and external shaking.[26]

However the new direction of Aiwa under Sony did not meet consumer and sales expectations. On January 21, 2005, new product development ended, and by 2007, Aiwa products were discontinued and no longer sold in the market outside its home market. Sony announced the termination of the brand entirely on May 14, 2008[27][28] but continued to provide support for existing products.

Revival of Aiwa

Aiwa returned as a brand in 2015 and has since been used by various companies globally. It is mostly owned by Towada Audio since 2017.

Aiwa Corp (Chicago) and Sakar International

An American audio company known as Hale Devices, Inc. were granted the rights to the brand name from Sony in the US market and abroad. The Chicago based company, which was headed by Joe Born,[29] also then renamed itself to Aiwa Corporation.[30] In April 2015 it launched its first Aiwa product, the Exos-9 speaker.[30] The company launched a number of Aiwa branded products in the following years, including the Prodigy and Arc-1 headphones.

Aiwa Exos-9 Bluetooth speaker, 2015

In September 2020, Aiwa Corporation and Aiwa Co., Ltd. of Japan announced that their businesses had unified, with a vision to rebuild Aiwa as a single global brand.[31] The two companies had previously fought court cases over Aiwa trademarks in Illinois[32] as well as in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[33]

It was reported in August 2021 that Aiwa Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[34][35] Following bankruptcy proceedings, the assets were sold to a new company (Aiwa Acquisitions LLC) affiliated with Sakar International, Inc. in November 2021,[36][clarification needed] with Sakar being a licensee to Infinity Lifestyle Brands, thus making Aiwa a sister brand of Altec Lansing in the North American market.[clarification needed] This new Aiwa showcased a number of new products at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023.[37]

Aiwa Co., Ltd. (2017–)

On April 11, 2017, Towada Audio, a contract manufacturer of Sony radios, acquired the Aiwa brand rights from Sony (globally, except the Americas)[38][39] and created a subsidiary called Aiwa Co. Ltd. like the original Aiwa, with its director Kazuomi Nakamura being someone who joined the original Aiwa in 1989. The news of the Aiwa brand's revival was met highly positively in Japan, which showed its brand recognition.[40]

The company launched the first Aiwa products at the end of the year, including radio cassette players, LCD televisions and record players.[41][42] For global expansion, it established Aiwa Electronics International Co., Ltd., headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. From a public statement released by Aiwa Co., Ltd (Tokyo, Japan), "Aiwa Corporation (Chicago, USA) are in not in any way related to us, Aiwa Co., Ltd (Tokyo, Japan) or Aiwa Japan since 1951 to date".[43]

In 2020, Aiwa launched the HPB-SW40 ("ButterflyAudio") through crowdsourcing in Japan, a wearable headphone with a unique design that sits on the shoulders.[44] Also in 2020 it launched a record player style Bluetooth speaker and radio (SB-LFS30), a radio cassette recorder (TR-A30) and pocket analogue radio (AR-AP35).

Aiwa Vietnam was formed in 2020 and debuted with the release of smart TVs in the country.[45][46] In 2021, Aiwa partnered with 5,000 retailers in India to relaunch in the country.[47] Aiwa India launched a new series of smart TVs, the Magnifiq series, in July 2022.[48] The regional headquarters of Aiwa in India, which serves the South Asia region, is currently headed by Ajay Mehta.[49]

Other Aiwa companies

Latin America

In Mexico and other countries in Latin America, the Aiwa rights are owned by Audio Mobile Americas, S.A. based in Panama which relaunched the brand in 2017. This company sells products such as smart TVs, headphones, speakers and others.[50]

Brazil

The Aiwa brand relaunched in Brazil in 2022 after being licensed by MK Group, owner of Mondial. It started with producing new televisions at a former Sony manufacturing plant in Manaus.[1][51]

Aiwa Digital

In June 2022, Aiwa Co., Ltd. announced that it granted the use of its trademark in the digital field to a Japanese contract manufacturer named JENESIS.[52] JENESIS then announced its first smartphone, tablet and smartwatch products under its aiwa digital series. It also sells musical instruments.[53] New subsidiary Aiwa Marketing Japan Co., Ltd. (joint venture with Aiwa Co., Ltd.) was established in 2023.[54]

Aiwa Home

Since 2023, the New Jersey, USA based company Xtreme Connected Home, a part of JEM Accessories, has licensed the Aiwa brand from its North American owner and released home and kitchen appliances domestically.[55]

Gallery

See also

References

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