San Diego Daily Transcript
February 21, 1994

Norris Reprices And Renames Recorder

Product Introduction Team Lining Up For 'Flashback'

As it nears the market, Poway-based Norris Communications Corp. continues to refine plans to introduce a handheld voice recorder with no moving parts.

The product now is known as "Flashback" and is expected to retail at less than $200, Norris said last week. Last September, it was called "Speak Easy" and was to sell for less than $100.

The device is smaller than the thickness of a half-deck of playing cards and weighs three ounces. Previously it was described as the size of three stacked credit cards. That's small, however you measure it.

President Elwood G. "Woody" Norris hopes the product will double revenue in the fiscal year starting April 1.

"We have set this goal based on achieving less than 2 percent sales of the total market during the first year," he said. "The combination of experienced marketing and sales organizations coupled with our proprietary technology and state-of-the-art manufacturing capability on site, provides an opportunity to substantially increase company growth while managing costs and maintaining the highest quality."

Last week, Norris disclosed another new name, SoundClip, a removable solid-state medium. This is akin to the tape cassette put into a taper recorder. But these SoundClips are non-moving and non-volatile, need no battery back-up and are impervious to magnetic fields. They can be recorded over hundreds of thousands of times or archived for years without degradation of sound quality, says Norris.

The company says all features available on portable tape recorders can be duplicated on Flashback with its SoundClip. In addition to record, play, fast forward, reverse and pause, the Norris product offers random access and the ability to insert or edit messages without erasing or recording over speech. Also. Flashback has the ability to scan recordings at either a high or low rate of speed without altering the pitch of the voice.

"Initially," Norris said, "SoundClips, the removable solid-state recording media, will be sold in 30-minute versions."

The company expects to introduce 60-minute and 120-minute clips within a year of product introduction. Thirty-minute clips will retail for less than $50 at first, but are expected to drop to less than $30 later this year.

The recorder will be introduced to the industry April 1 with a national product rollout scheduled for midyear.

The company said more than 800 million recorders have been sold worldwide and another 35 million are sold each year--this despite the "personal recorder syndrome." The symptoms of the syndrome are typified by the "too awkward, too heavy, too conspicuous, didn't use it enough, it seemed like a good idea, but it's in a drawer somewhere" experience commonly associated with mechanical recorders.

While some components will be bought from suppliers, all key manufacturing and assembly operations will be handled by American Surface Mounted Devices, Norris' manufacturing subsidiary in Poway.

Norris Communications has retained two firms to assist with the product introduction. Tri-West Marketing, a Los Angeles-based national sales representative, was hired to begin nationwide distribution. Flashback and SoundClips will be sold through distributors, retailers, catalogs and will be redesigned for original equipment manufacturers to sell under their own labels.

Norris also hired Connors Communications, a New Year public relations firm specializing in product launches.

Currently, Norris is negotiation agreements with international sale representatives.

Norris anticipates a loss this year.

The firm lost $970,060 on revenue of $1.31 million in the third quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $4.09 million lost on revenue of $1.48 million a year earlier. For the nine months, it lost $189,539 on revenue of $5.34 million against $4.38 million lost on revenue of $5.80 million a year earlier.

Norris said the loss anticipated for the year ending March 31 is due to increased costs to develop its new recorder and due to the reorganization of American Surface Mounted Devices. Not only is Norris expecting to double revenue in fiscal 1995, but he predicts the company will return to profitability.

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