Season of Awards

Once again, it is the month of awards.

The awards that our company has created in order to realize our corporate philosophy of 田ontributing to the constructive development of the industry have gained strong support from users and are making waves. This year marks the sixty-second anniversary since our founding. In 1978, at the time of our thirtieth anniversary, we created the Audio Excellence Award. The panel of judges for this award consists of distributors and critics. Because the method of screening deviated so much from the usual way for such awards, it attracted a great deal of attention.

The co-chairs of the first judging panel were Tereon President Shichinojo Suzuki from the distributor side and Isamu Asano from the critic side, and the memorable first winner of the Gold Prize was Accuphase痴 C-200S and P-300S. Since then the panel of judges has met 32 times, including this year, and the 20 judges (10 distributors and 10 critics) have engaged in extremely rigorous screening every year. The current co-chairs are Osakaya President Shoji Morita from the distributor side and Hirotsugu Saito from the critic side.

Looking at the award痴 judging panel since the beginning, on the distributor side we see that its membership today has reached the second or third generation and represents the leading stores in Japan. From next year, we have invited Reo Noda, the son of President Kazuo Noda of Nodaya, a well-established store in Koriyama, to sit on the panel as the representative for the Tohoku region, a position which is vacant at present. (For details about this store, please see the article beginning on page 24 of the magazine.)

The Visual Grand-Prix is being held for the twentieth time this year. It was created together with the magazine AV Review in 1984, when hi-fi video players and large-screen televisions were beginning to enter the mainstream. Today it is recognized as the standard award of the business, and its influence is increasing year by year. In the case of this award as well, 100 leading stores around the country participate as judges. Preliminary screening takes place on the basis of their votes and the votes of critics, and then a panel of judges makes a final decision.

The characteristics of our awards are that distribution is always involved and the results are transmitted to not only Japan but the whole world via this magazine, AV Review, the Phile-web site, and the Shopping Guide free paper available in stores. That is the reason for their enormous and growing influence.

The last of our three major awards is the Digital Camera Grand-Prix. Although established only a couple of years ago, this award is already widely recognized in the digital camera business and creating ripples in various good senses. And again, the camera industry participates. The digital camera market has expanded to a scale of over 100 billion yen, and, together with peripheral equipment, it is expected to achieve further growth.

This award is becoming increasingly influential. Distributors take part in preliminary voting, and Kumio Yamada, the foremost expert on digital cameras, displays outstanding leadership as the chair of the judging panel. Another characteristic is that distribution experts participate as panel members. From this year the award is being organized by the Digital Camera Grand-Prix Executive Committee, of which I am the representative.

Other awards include the Pure Audio Grand-Prix, the Analog Grand-Prix, and the Home Theater Grand-Prix. We publicize these awards via the Phile-web, our consumer media, and our free paper available in stores, thereby hopefully boosting the sales of related products and contributing to the development of the business. Especially in today痴 economic environment, I believe it is important to supply easy-to-understand information in places that are nearest to users.