7 June 2007
Access All Areas(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 02,2007)
Global Positioning Systems
|GPS units from Access Technology Co make travel a breeze|
It has taken Access Technology Co just five years to become a leader in its field in the rapidly-growing Chinese mainland market, and its NavAccess brand is also a popular consumer choice in the US.
Now, according to marketing director Regan Yee, it is aggressively expanding into European markets with a range of GPS-based multimedia products.
"We started out with biometric devices and then three years ago we moved across to GPS," Yee recalls, adding that Access manufactures at a factory in Shenzhen.
"We subcontract production because the factory has more than 10,000 workers, which gives us flexibility in terms of volumes and allows us to do our own planning, R&D, testing and analysis and sales and marketing."
CPUs and core components such as LCDs are sourced in Korea, Taiwan and Japan, but all assembly is done in China. "Three years ago, we were among the first in this market and the first in China," Yee comments. "Since then there has been a lot of development."
During this time, GPS has evolved rapidly from high-cost units for specialised users such as marine navigators and the military to relatively inexpensive dashboard units for private motorists. "The market is getting more competitive, so pricing is coming down," states Yee.
Access realised early that a standalone GPS unit would be insufficient to compete in a market flooded with multimedia devices, and set about creating what Yee calls an electronic travel companion.
"There is an MP3 facility so you can listen to music and also watch movies, read an e-book and browse photos at the same time," he explains. "Our newest model, which will come out later this year, lets the user go online using Wi-Fi."
The NavAccess units are shipped with a dashboard mounting system and a cable to connect to a car charger, can be removed and used outside the vehicle, and can be powered by an internal battery or an AC/DC adaptor.
"These units are very small and compact and very helpful for business travel," Yee claims. "A family which owns several vehicles can also move the unit from one vehicle to another as required."
Map information for each country comes in the form of a card which the machine reads and uses to interact with satellite signals, with a high degree of accuracy in pinpointing locations.
Access claims that in North America and Europe, where GPS has been greatly refined, the units can be accurate to within about one metre.
"All the information is on the country card, so if the user travels to the UK he inserts the UK card," Yee explains. "The driver inputs destinations and stops via a 'soft keyboard' displayed on the touch-sensitive screen."
Commands are available in either British or American English and Spanish or Latin Spanish, and offered in Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
Access currently has map cards for all of North America and Western Europe, much of Eastern Europe and some countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, as well as China.
According to Yee, a recent study indicates that the use of GPS shortens driving distances by 5%, trip durations by 13%, wrong turns by 37%, reorientation stops by 33%, and collisions and accidents by 2.5%.
"As a result, the car burns 12.5% less fuel, which in turn reduces emissions by 7%," he claims.
Yee notes that the company's contract factory can produce more than 100,000 or 200,000 units per month, depending on the model and orders. "We're currently asking for minimum orders of 200 units, but require a minimum order of 1,000 pieces for OEM or private label work," he reveals.
Delivery usually takes 35-60 days, depending on volume, while current FOB unit prices range from US$80-100, again depending on the volumes ordered.
This year Access will add two new units, boosting its current E-801, E-802 and MX-100 range of multimedia navigation systems.
"We have to develop products fast," observes Yee, explaining that GPS was previously a "very conservative" business that saw users buy one unit every two or three years.
Now the business model has changed, he believes, and users are more price-sensitive and interested in new features. "The new models that we are developing will be different from other GPS systems," Yee claims. "We will add different features and different functions so that they will have more features, more advanced technology - and more pricing benefits."
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE
Access Technology Co