8 Feb 2005
MP3 Players(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 01,2005)
As usual, Hong Kong electronics manufacturers are finding ways to make their products stand out in a growing but increasingly competitive sector that is witnessing startling price drops.
For example, HOTronic Ltd chief marketing officer Danny Ho notes that MP3 prices dropped about 30% last year and expects that this trend will continue in 2005.
"As a result, sales will go up," Ho predicts. "It does mean the sector is very competitive, but we emphasise the fact that the quality control of our products is very good."
HOTronic's MP3 players come in 128, 256 and 512MB versions. "Our difference, however, is that the power consumption is low so the battery lasts for 13-14 hours," he claims.
Europe and the US are the company's largest markets, but he is also looking closer to home. "We are targeting the Chinese mainland and are starting promotions there this month," Ho adds.
HOTronic uses Japanese and Korean ICs to manufacture MP3 players at a 100,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the southern mainland that employs 88 workers.
The company, which has its own HOTronic brand, supplies MP3 player at prices ranging from US$30-50 each FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of 500 pieces delivered in 15 days. "We can supply the players in whatever Pantone colours customers want," Ho adds.
Similarly energetic, Bright Mark Industries Ltd concentrates on producing MP3 players with special features such as colour LEDs, photo viewers and the ability to transfer movies or files.
"We have just launched three players that let users view a movie or JPEG photo," reveals manager Lopo Lo. "The traditional MP3 player is still popular, but now customers want new models and features."
Bright Mark has its own I-Tech and Tecsonic brand MP3 players, which it produces at its ISO 9000-certified, 100,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen for various markets, primarily Europe and the US.
"Our cheapest model is around US$23, while those with the new features are US$90, all FOB Hong Kong," says Lo, adding that the minimum order is 300 pieces and delivery is 20 days after order confirmation.
Quality is also a major selling point for Sunox Technology Ltd, which began operations only four years ago. "Our mother company is an electronics components manufacturer, so this helps us guarantee not just the quality but also the delivery time," claims business development manager Cover Tong.
Sunox produces two MP3 models: a stick shape and a square version. "The square model is shock-resistant, has an LCD indicator, digital sound equaliser and built-in 32MB/64MB flash memory and supports external Smart Media Cards to increase memory up to 128MB," Tong says, adding that the finger-size stick model is lightweight and has optional FM radio. "The square model is available in silver, black and red, while the stick version comes in red, blue and black."
The US and western Europe, particularly Italy and France, are currently Sunox's major markets. "We are also getting ready to explore Australia and eastern Europe," Tong reveals.
FOB Hong Kong prices for Sunox MP3 players range from US$26.00-42.50 per unit for minimum orders of 500 players delivered 28 days after order confirmation.
Brands are a key product differentiator for Marble Watch Mfg Ltd, which has added personal music players carrying its PowerDisk name to its watch lines. "We carry three MP3 watches, with a choice of metal, leather or plastic straps," says sales manager Keith Cheung. "Currently the watches are maximum 256MB, but we are working on a 512MB version."
He notes that Marble Watch has patented a circular USB connection jack that allows the 19-year-old firm to manufacture an analogue dial model that he claims is 100% water resistant.
"The watches also have a built-in rechargable battery, which can be fully charged in only 2.5 hours, and provide 10 hours continuous play," Cheung says.
The LCD display model has a built-in microphone for voice recording, and comes in either a 128MB version that provides nine hours play or a 256MB model that offers 18 hours of music. "It also has a rotating song display," he adds.
Cheung says that documents or photographs can be saved in all the watches, and they come with rechargeable batteries, a USB cable for computer connection and an AC adaptor.
"Europe accounted for 40% of our market in 2004, and the US and Southeast Asia, including the mainland, 30% each," Cheung reveals. "We attended an exhibition in Dubai last year and found there is a lot of potential in the Middle East, as well as South Africa."
Marble Watch MP3 player watches are manufactured at the company's own mainland factory in Dongguan, where 500 workers produce around 20,000 pieces per month. "FOB Hong Kong prices are available on request, and the minimum order is 200 pieces delivered in 15 days," Cheung says.
So, whether it is new features or an emphasis on quality and delivery, Hong Kong MP3 manufacturers have plenty to sing about in the mid-range of this booming market.
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS