Regarding the status of possible future Firmware updates this year for existing Roland products we discuss here at VGuitarforums, It might be good to review Roland's recent Business Performance by market segment report here:http://www.roland.com/ir/financial_category.html
and 2011 financial results http://www.roland.com/ir/pdf/2011FinancialResultsandDividends.pdf
As it reveals a significant drop in expected profit, due to the Japan Earthquake, Parts procurement problems, and lackluster sales of Boss pedals and multitrack recorders compared to a year ago.
In the Electronic Musical Instruments Business, strong demand is expected mainly in emerging countries such as
China and Central and South America. Nevertheless, owing to a shortage of supply of products stemming from
uncertain parts procurement after the earthquake, net sales are expected to be flat year on year, and as for profit
and loss, operating loss is expected due to factors such as the deterioration in the rate of factory operation caused
by a decrease in production.
For synthesizers, although such new products as battery-powered shoulder and mobile synthesizers contributed to sales and sales were upbeat compared to the previous consolidated fiscal year in Japan, Australia, and Brazil, sales of core products fell significantly, especially in North America and Europe.
In terms of electronic drums, sales of new low-end electronic drum products remained robust, both in Japan and overseas, and sales were up greatly year on year in Australia and Brazil. Despite these bright spots, however, sales of electronic drums were down overall, due to poor sales of mid-range and high-end products in North America and Southeast Asia. As a result, net sales for this segment fell by 25.8% year on year, to ¥18,364 million.
Guitar-related equipment For guitar effects, sales of new mid-range multi-functional guitar effects were robust, and in Australia and Brazil they exceeded the sales of the previous consolidated fiscal year, but overall sales of guitar effects were down, due to factors including sluggish sales for large lineup of single-function compact guitar effects, especially in Japan. In the multi-track recorders category, a series of multi-track recorders also fell substantially, due to the impact of the contraction of the market. As a result, net sales for this segment fell by 23.6% year on year, to ¥9,018 million.
Home electronic musical instruments Sales were robust for new digital piano products with the new SuperNATURAL Piano sound engine, which went on sale in Japan in the second half of the consolidated fiscal year under review, and sales for this category also increased year on year. The Company also focused on electronic accordions as a new business field, and sales grew in each local market. Nevertheless, the significant impact of reduced sales of digital pianos and electronic organs due to weak consumer spending, especially in North America, resulted in decline in net sales in this segment by 19.9% year on year, to ¥9,628 million.
Professional video, professional audio and computer music equipment Sales of Computer music category increased as a result of adding a music-production software maker (Cakewalk, Inc.) as a new consolidated subsidiary. Sales of low-end music-production systems packaging software and hardware were also robust. Overall computer music sales, however, were sluggish, due mainly to declined sales of portable recorders caused by intensifying competition. Sales of video and professional audio equipment were down, due to reduced capital investment by broadcasters and other corporations. As a result, net sales for this segment fell by 17.5% year on year, to ¥5,714 million.
Others Sales of products including sound engine for online karaoke machines and revenues from music schools declined. Overall net sales in this segment were down 18.2% year on year, to ¥2,760 million.
No doubt today's real unemployment rate of 22.7 % here in the USA is contributing to the overall lackluster sales of Roland Products in North America.
Roland US recently teamed with GE Capital to provide 12 months - no interest loans for Roland gear (subject to credit check) http://www.rolandus.com/go/ge_money/
In tough economic times like these, Roland Japan (who designs all the products) will be responding by re-prioritizing and re-tasking its limited engineering workforce to focus on creating brand new lower cost gear (with reduced feature set), to generate new sales revenue in the lower cost product market segments, as a response to today's cash strapped world economy.
I'm of the opinion they are not in a position today to place those same engineering resources creating new firmware, or adding new features to existing premium priced products with declining sales like the VG-99, VB-99 during a global economic recession.
Remember this is the same company that decided to cancel creating a GR-55 Editor and not adding a 1/4" Normal Guitar Input jack on the GR-55, deeming these too costly. Apparently lack of these items has not deterred the extremely high user demand and robust sales the GR-55 has been experiencing since its release this year.
The Roland Corporate Financial Officers call the shots, and I reluctantly agree their decisions have proved to be the smart decision.
The GR-55 is a hit, as reflected in the significant growth rate of www.VGuitarForums.com
this year (We've more than doubled our numbers to (effective July 2011) to over 4000 members !)
Ever since the GR-55 was announced at Winter NAMM show in mid January 2011, we are growing at a rate of 250 (average ) new members each month. The good news, key people at each Roland distributor around the globe are silently observing and paying attention to our discussions, and this will influence the direction of future products.
I can only hope this will benefit us all with new improved products that effectively raise each of our personal expectations of what a guitar can sonically achieve in the 21st century.
But to be honest, I would not hold my breath waiting for a possible future VB-99 or VG-99 or GR-55 firmware update during the present economic conditions.
Hopefully our collective luck will change for the better - and very soon!