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AMI's Maas Says Restructuring Is On Course As Progress Accelerates

Posted On: 1/4/2013

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TAGS: AMI Entertainment, Megatouch, AMI TV,, Mike Maas, Michael Maas, AMI restructuring, Rowe International, jukebox, video game, coin-operated, AMI divisions, Harbour Group, Ecast, NSM, Rock-Ola, Rowe, View, Wurlitzer, Ecast migration, Rowe NGX, Face Place photo booth

Mike Maas, AMI Entertainment BRISTOL, PA -- AMI Entertainment's planned reorganization into separate businesses, AMI (music and TV) and Megatouch (games), is proceeding smoothly, according to chief executive Michael Maas. The restructuring was announced last spring. | SEE VT, May 2012

In a letter to the company's operator customers, Maas explained that new AMI branding, separate websites, independent invoices and distinct parts facilities are among the changes that will become apparent this year.

"The two divisions will each operate their own business systems, in their own legal entities," he said. As a result, customer and open purchase orders will be separated, effective Feb. 1. Both units will continue to be owned by Harbour Group (St. Louis, MO), and Maas remains their chief executive.

The past year saw AMI's jukebox business pick up speed as the company delivered a record number of new NGX jukeboxes and introduced the NGX Face Place photo jukebox variant, Maas recalled. The complementary BarLink mobile application also won swift, large-scale acceptance by patrons.

"Of course, the biggest news came in March when AMI stepped in to help operators avert disaster after the sudden demise of Ecast," the chief executive continued. "I'm proud of how our team responded in that crisis, and look forward to completing the migration in early 2013."

More than a dozen hardware platforms designed to run on Ecast's network -- jukebox models from NSM, Rock-Ola, Rowe, View and Wurlitzer, along with Ecast's EQ -- were involved in the migration process. While most Ecast boxes were moved by a software solution, some equipment lines required hardware upgrades.

Last year also saw dramatic enhancement of the Megatouch Live game system, which had 25 software updates since its introduction in late 2011.

"We remain committed to helping the industry grow," Maas told the company's customers. "Our divisional focus has produced a product development pipeline which is stronger than ever; 2013 promises to be an exciting year."

AMI's videogame and jukebox assets were integrated in 2009 in order to leverage synergies during a dodgy economic period. The merger brought together common manufacturing and administrative functions that allowed the company to reduce costs. Manufacturing was moved to Reynosa, Mexico, but has since moved back to the U.S., where AMI is producing jukeboxes and videogame terminals in two facilities in Texas. The remaining artifact of the merger is the AMI network.

"The needs of videogames and digital music services are very different, even opposing," Maas explained. In the video sector, AMI creates original content, which allows it to deliver software to market as quickly as possible, and to release updates on its own schedules. For its music business, the company is involved in licensing and administering existing content, which needs to follow a more secure and cautious path to the marketplace. The separation, Maas emphasized, will help accelerate AMI's product development cycles. He predicted that AMI will be viewed as the product innovator in 2014.

AMI's involvement in entertainment technology dates back to 1909 with the foundation of the ancestral National Automatic Music Co. That firm, which manufactured and operated player pianos, spun off Automatic Musical Instrument Co. in 1925. Two years later, AMI unveiled the "automatic selective phonograph." This was the first true jukebox, allowing the patron to choose a song before actuating the player.