1 Aug 2007
Music To Go(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 08,2007)
MP3 Players & Accessories
|Xtek Electronics Ltd of the Chinese mainland specialises in consumer digital products such as these MP3 players in different colours and memory capacities|
Everyone now seems to be marching to the beat of MP3 players - the ubiquitous devices that store, organise and play digital music files
MP3 and MP4 players form the core business of Xtek Electronics Ltd, a digital products company based in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. Founded in 2002, the ISO 9001- and CE-certified firm began making MP3s in 2004 and MP4s in 2006.
This company offers 10 models in each category and sells its products to Europe, the US and the mainland. "We're also looking at the Middle East," says sales manager Helen Shue.
With unit prices ranging from US$10-30 FOB the mainland, MP3 players are offered in different shapes and sizes, and with memories ranging from 128MB to 4GB.
Meanwhile, Xtek's MP4 players are priced from US$17-70 each FOB the mainland, and, besides showing photos and movies, include FM radio and recording functions.
"Screens are currently about 2 inches," says Shue, "but we plan to go up to 3-inch and 4-inch screens by the end of 2007." She says a minimum order is 300 pieces for delivery 1-2 weeks after order confirmation.
Another firm, Disruptive China, a subsidiary of UK-based consumer electronics provider Disruptive Ltd, specialises in product development and sourcing for European retailers.
"Our main focus is on iPod accessory products, speakers, MP3 players and headphones," says managing director Tom Dudderidge. "MP3 and MP4 players are the fastest-growing category of consumer electronics these days."
The company subcontracts production of its iLab and Gear4 brands to factories on the mainland. "We have 300-400 models of MP3 and MP4 players," Dudderidge adds. "There are different models for different markets with different price points and different specifications."
He says that users want a good price, but not necessarily fewer functions. "MP3s play music, but some have FM and recording functions, with memory up to 8GB. People also want a sleek cyber-look, and colour is also important, especially vivid colours, while miniaturised housing is also desirable."
This company's products are produced in the low- to medium- price range for major markets in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Minimum order is 2,500 units, with delivery eight weeks after order confirmation.
A first-time exhibitor at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Dudderidge says the fair is an ideal event. "The Hong Kong show is probably the best for us because customers are looking to buy direct from China and, as we have facilities there, it's a good match," he reasons.
Consumers can also wake up to their favourite iPod music with Doss (HK) Ltd's iPod Audio System with Alarm Clock (DS-363). This US$10 FOB Shenzhen unit, humorously shaped like a cartoon frog, also offers a snooze alarm and an iPod-charging feature.
"Many customers from the US and Europe are interested in this item, and it's been very hot," says general manager Tony Lee, noting that the eight-year-old company's factory in Shenzhen has been turning out 100,000 of these units each month.
Another sleek new model - the iPod Audio System - sells for US$30 each and features a radio and a clock with a large LCD screen. "Our customers like the design and look of our products, which are very fashionable," Lee claims. "They also have good sound quality and a range of functions."
The company has a minimum order requirement of 4,000 pieces, with delivery time 25-30 days after order confirmation. The US, Europe, Japan and South Africa are its most important markets, and about 10% of the OEM/ODM firm's products carry the in-house Doss brand name.
Intent on covering the whole market with everything from basic to deluxe models, Yusan Industries Ltd of Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland is likely to have an MP3 player to suit everyone.
For example, the firm's multifunction TM-M1 5.7mm Ultra Super Slim model (US$32 FOB Hong Kong) includes a video and photo viewer, WMA player, FM tuner and recording, voice recorder, text viewer and clock. "Apart from the features, the slimness is a major selling point," says Linna Yiu, secretary at the 1989-established company.
In addition, the Bluetooth MP4 Player (TM-BM10) features a 2.4-inch, full-colour MP4 player that can play up to 15 hours of video and an MP3 player that can hold up to 50 hours of music.
"This is our hottest item, as people are looking for wider screens to watch movies and they also want wireless features," Yiu adds. "We try to differentiate our products by size and features."
The built-in Bluetooth function supports Bluetooth A2DP and AVRCP files, and has other typical features such as photo/text viewer, FM tuner with 20 presets, FM recording/voice recorder and clock. This model sells for US$56 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order is 3,000 pieces and delivery is 45 days after order confirmation to markets in Europe, the US and Asia.
These two items are among 10 new MP3 and MP4 models that the ISO 9001- and ISO 14001-certified company, which also makes boom boxes, micro systems and equipment for Internet radio, introduced at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition).
"This is the only fair that we exhibit at," Yiu adds. "We visit fairs in Germany and the US, but we think Hong Kong is more important for us. We've participated at this fair every year our company has been in business."
Meanwhile, combining fashionable ergonomic design with Bluetooth functionality, R. Stone Ltd's Sync3 Bluetooth Stereo MP3 Headset (LBM H30) allows users to seamlessly switch between music and phone. Stereo Bluetooth lets users download from an MP3 collection as well as listen to wireless music from a Hand3 streaming device. The unit price is about US$55 FOB Hong Kong.
"We started making this model this year," says manager Rita Tong, "and we're aiming for the youth market." She adds that MP3 players account for about 20% of production at the six-year-old firm, which also manufactures mobile phone and camera chargers, GPS headsets and dongles.
Another wireless Bluetooth product debuting at the fair was this company's Vibe3 Stereo Mobile Hearing Assistant (HK-40SAN), which sells for US$80 each FOB Hong Kong. Based on bone conduction technology, the Vibe3 provides clearer ambient sound for hearing enhancement and is able to switch automatically to mobile phone calls as they come in.
"This is good for people with hearing problems because the sound is based on vibrations, but anyone can use it," Tong says. Exports are mainly to Europe and the US, and the firm has a minimum order requirement of 1,000 pieces for delivery 60 days after order confirmation.
Tong sees a strong market ahead for MP3 players featuring Bluetooth technology. "The market is growing and the future looks good," she reports.
On the other hand, California-based dreamGear, founded in 2002 by management executives from the entertainment and video game accessory industries, showed a number of innovative products from its i.Sound line.
The i.Sound Plasma Speaker (US$65 each FOB the US), for example, features a built-in electromagnetic light show within a Plasma Globe that dances to the rhythm of the music from any MP3 player, thus creating a unique audio and visual experience.
Another item is the i.Sound Audio Vault (US$15 each), essentially a carrying case for audio devices that is made of durable nylon and which also offers two built-in amplified speakers and a wake-up-to-music alarm function.
Promoted as "the safest way to carry, play and protect your iPod", the Audio Vault is one of the firm's best-selling items, says Moris Mirzadeh, dreamGear's vice president of sales.
"We focus on audio products because it's a growing market and there's no end in sight," he elaborates. "We're planning on making a high-end MP3 player that will feature MP3 and MP4, a recorder and calendar. Instead of a flash memory card, it will use SD cards to transfer movies or songs and will have 8GB of memory."
Production is based in Shenzhen, where the company also maintains an office. However, it plans to open an office in Hong Kong. "We're shipping more products internationally and so we need a Hong Kong office to handle that business for us," Mirzadeh says.
The firm's major export markets include Mexico, Canada, the UK, Italy, France, the UAE and Hong Kong. For orders outside the US a minimum order requirement of 3,000 pieces applies. Delivery is 60 days after order confirmation.
For the most comprehensive array of MP3 and MP4 players, Hong Kong is the perfect place to find a complete range of the newest models.
TEXT BY ANDREA PAWLYNA