One of the Market Developers, Jeff Shoemaker, on our US Retail team sent me a link to something he knew I’d love.  He knows I’m a gadget guy and truly enjoy the insane cutting edge technology that gets released daily.  He knew I read Engadget, Joystiq, Dvice, Uncrate, XBOX360 Fanboy, PS3 Fanboy, and a few others religiously.  He knew I’d spend some hard earned cash on things that others might find to be a bit much.  So he knew I’d love a new product from Denon, the AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable

What is it?  For a cable you’d expect $500 to get you something amazing.  This is a five foot long Ethernet cable.  Generally available for free from your IT guy or maybe $2 on numerous sites.  Now your true audiophile friends will weigh in here and say “$500 for a cable isn’t that much, I spent $14,000 on bi-wiring my one ton Kharma Exquisites.”  Oxygen-free copper and multi-layer wrapping is just the beginning – Wikipedia says that exotic materials like silver and “long crystal” or high-purity copper will get the best possible frequency response.  Right.  Of course that same article will go on to say that digital signals get an even hotter debate because of the “its on or off” argument around digital signals.  Yes, the Wikipedia article also says that SP/DIF signals transmit just the same over a coat hanger as they do ultra-high end cables.  Wild.

So I went to check out the 238 reviews on Amazon per the link that Jeff sent me.  With reviews titled “It Gets Me Closer To The Lord” and “Schroedingers Catbox” I knew I was in for a treat.  Some of my favorite excerpts:

  • “A caution to people buying these: if you do not follow the “directional markings” on the cables, your music will play backwards. Please check that before mentioning it in your reviews.”
  • “I couldn’t fit the dang thing in my computer. After about two hours of mulling it over I finally was able to figure out that this thing could be rotated 180 degrees and fit into the slot like a dream. I tried some cruddy $10 dollar Ethernet cord from Radio Shack, and even the ‘click’ upon inserting it into the slot sounded better.”
  • “At last! The quandary regarding the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics being applied to everyday objects is resolved. On behalf of the human race, I say “thank you, Denon”.  To achieve said results, simply both purchase and not purchase the cable. It should also be noted that reading this review it will influence the outcome.”
  • “I’d note that “there is a sucker born every minute” but clearly Denon knows this. IMO their target customer would buy a Ferrari to use the door latch as a bottle opener.”
  • “There are holes in my ears where the hearing-stuff used to be, but it doesn’t matter. Thanks to Denon, my aural drive has been completely satiated and I can live out the rest of my years in silent remembrance of the true dedication of these (I have twelve) link cables.”

Clearly the internet snarkiness is getting the best of this product.  Why?  Because people aren’t buying that an ethernet cable needs to cost $500.  Audiophiles will absolutely spend insane amounts on their true love.  Just like golfers will spend $500 on a new driver, every year, and driving enthusiasts will spend $100,000 on a car they love, and hardcore PC gamers will spend $1,000 on the latest video card.  But when they smell something that is just insane, they’ll comment on it.  Bigtime.

What’s the opportunity for Denon here?  They could respond to the community with the reasoning behind their pricing for that cable.  There are guaranteed some specs here that caused their marketing department to price a cable at that end of the spectrum.  They could also change the pricing on the product based on market feedback – and earn some customer loyalty points when it comes to future product consideration.  No matter what, the reviewers spoke passionately about what they think of this product.  I’m off to try that Ferrari bottle opener 😉

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