The entire snowboard industry is riding an electronics wave recently, culminating with this weeks announcement that Burton and Motorola have inked a deal to produce an iPod/Cell phone enabled jacket, helmet, and beanie which incorporate Bluetooth technology for wireless connectivity. The agreement also includes a three-year global sports marketing alliance, which gives Motorola a strong presence at Burton’s Open Snowboarding Championship Series.
“Three years ago we announced our partnership with Apple and our iPod compatible jacket,” Bryan Johnston, VP of Marketing at Burton, told BOSS. “This new relationship with Motorola is very different because it is a three year partnership and the product we have developed handles everything with communications The majority of the proprietary technology comes from Motorolas advanced research team and our research team worked on integrating it into the apparel and helmet.”
This is not the only electronics-snowboard cross partnership in the industry. Skull Candy, an audio electronics firm based in Park City, Utah has inked agreements with both Giro and Bonfire Snowboard Apparel. Last month Bonfire launched a jacket-beanie combo that provides the same iPod/cell phone connectivity as the Burton products, and Giro has launched a series of audio-enabled helmets.
Giros efforts integrated high quality headphones and cell phone compatibility into several of their existing helmet designs. Eric Richter, Senior MarComm Manager at Giro told BOSS, “We partnered with Skull Candy for the right to use their LINK technology, and to refine their components to fit into our designs and spec.”
Alex Birch, Director of Marketing and Creative for Bonfire Snowboard Apparel told BOSS, “We are positioning our brand on the affordable side of integrated electronics, and that is really pushing us beyond our normal comfort zone. We are now dealing with consumer electronics magazines and websites. Some reps are even pushing themselves out of that comfort zone and targeting consumer electronics stores.”
Birch also said that while the iPod and MP3 business is very profitable for electronics companies, the potential for the accessory business is much bigger. This is what is driving the rush of snowboard companies to integrate audio equipment into their apparel and accessories. Additionally, Birch said that many boarders are already using MP3 players while they ride.
Burtons Bryan Johnston feels much the same. “We have talked a lot about what is driving this interest in electronics over the past few days at the consumer electronics show,” he said. “If you look at the general population base of snowboarders, they are very tech-savvy, and many are already riding with an iPod. This means you dont need that base of early adopters to spearhead the technology-they are already using it, and these products make it that much easier.”
Currently, Burton plans on distributing the new product through its normal channels, but Johnston said that there is still a possibility of pushing some product through some consumer electronic channels. “We have been approached by a lot of companies at the Consumer Electronics Show, but these channels are still up in the air,” he said.
While wearable electronics seem to be catching on in the snowboard market, the same is not true across the board. Oakley placed most of their Holiday hopes on the success of the Thump sunglass-MP3 player, but disappointing sales at Circuit City, Oakleys exclusive retail partner for the product, killed much of the enthusiasm.
>>> We can just imagine the first lawsuit when some kid going full tilt while jamming to Limp Bizkit mows down a family of four…