Apex was founded in California by David Ji and Ancle Hsu in August of 1997. Before this, they had their own scrap metal exporting business, named United Delta, Inc, which was formed in 1992. Ji and Hsu then began to produce DVD players through a Chinese manufacturer called Visual Disc and Digital Video Corporation, otherwise known as VDDV. Ji was the first CEO of Apex, and Hsu was known as the Chief Operating Officer. The man who was originally the sales and marketing leader later became their president in 2003, and his name is Stephen Brothers.
Apex really took off in the US Market when they released their AD-600a DVD player. They were some of the first of their type that also allowed users to play their own mp3 files, which was the format that most everyone uses to download music from the internet. This was of course during the giant fiasco with Napster, and mp3 was the buzzword of the year. So people flocked to buy their DVD player that could play the mp3’s. The player also featured a karaoke program, which was also very popular at the time. Even better, the players were introduced at a retail cost of around $179, which was around $100 less than most other DVD players being sold at the time. They were able to keep their prices down by eschewing costly advertising, and working closely with their low-cost suppliers who were based out of China.
That first DVD player was an instant hit, with Circuit City snapping up 5,000 in February of 200, according to a report in Electronic Business. These quickly sold out and Wal-Mart and Best Buy decided to follow suit. Sales in 2000 soared to $120 million. Unfortunately, one of the reasons those first DVD players was so popular came from a loophole in the programming. This loophole actually enabled users to deactivate the macro vision copy write protector on DVD’s. It also allowed users to play DVD’s from any region and also to be able to record DVD’s onto videotape. While users were thrilled with this, the copyright holders were not, and Apex was forced to change the programming in subsequent models to no longer allow this.
By the end of the year in 2001, Apex had become the second leading DVD manufacturer throughout the United States, with market shares reaching 13 percent next to Sony’s 22 percent. The company continued to price their DVD players well below what competitors were charging, and sales grew to over $600 million just that year. At that time, they only had 50 employees working their headquarters. While the company was almost always on the forefront of new products and technologies, they were not without their problems. A copyright infringement settlement in 2002 forced them to pay Pioneer, Sony, and Phillips $7 each and every time they made a DVD player. In 2002 they doubled their employees to 100 and still saw sales of almost $1 billion that year.
Apex is still riding the wave of new technologies, and continues to release products without spending a lot on advertising. They continue to roll out a great variety of products such as 65 inch projection TV’s and portable DVD players that have LCD screens. They have also been expanding their own line of DRX DVD recorders.