28 Sept 2006
Portable Audio(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 03,2006)
|FiT-brand waterproof MP3 players from A & A Product Co Ltd offer music lovers reliable, quality sound entertainment|
Music on the move is no longer the sole domain of youth - bankers, lawyers, accountants and housewives can now enjoy the benefits of their own personal audio products.
As one of the world's leading electronics manufacturing centres, it is not surprising that Hong Kong is at the forefront of the growing trend towards ever more innovative personal audio products and systems.
Foremost among the latest developments is the MP3 player developed by A & A Product Co Ltd, which is operated by a key control system and is claimed to be 100% waterproof.
The FiT 958-8 MP3 player with its patented waterproof system is the four-year-old company's most popular product, says spokesman Lau Siu Hung.
"The FiT 958-8 is the first waterproof MP3 that meets the exacting standards of IPX8, or immersion to a depth of 3.6 metres for a minimum of 12 hours," says Lau. "We are also developing a watertight radio and a waterproof bathroom telephone."
He says A & A utilises the latest technology and innovative ideas to survive in a difficult industry, and believes that "a portable, waterproof music player should make quite an impact".
The main market for the FiT-brand player is Europe. "There is strong demand in Europe for waterproof music players from the windsurfing community," he observes.
A & A produces 20,000 units a month at its 150-worker factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. "Our minimum order requirement is 500 items delivered 2-3 weeks after order confirmation," Lau adds.
Longer-established Microdia Ltd is already a major force in the industry, producing a number of audio players that bear the iRock and AiroBlue brands.
"Our most successful AV product is the Video iRock PMP, which is a portable all-in-one digital video camera, digital still camera, photo album, portable theatre, MP3 player, FM radio and a radio/voice recorder," business development manager Ken Hau reveals. "We place a lot of emphasis and resources on product development and have our own R&D centre."
The Video iRock features a 4.3-inch wide TFT LCD screen, standard 40GB expandable storage capacity that can store more than 40 movies or 9,000 MP3 tracks, photo viewer, 1.3MP camera, sound-effect function and a rechargeable Li-Ion battery.
The ISO 9000- and ISO 9002- certified manufacturer delivers 1,000-unit minimum orders 2-3 weeks after confirmation to the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. "We market to the high-end, high-quality sector, which makes developing countries difficult to penetrate," Hau says.
Equally focused on MP3 players is Eston Technology Ltd, which also produces digital voice recorders and Bluetooth car kits at its 150-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland.
The 12-year-old company's products often bear its own ENT brand and are available in 1,000-unit minimum order quantities delivered 20-30 days after order confirmation.
Account manager Rita Cheung says Eston's MP3 player and digital voice recorder are the company's most popular lines. "Europe is our most successful market, while the Middle East and Central and South America have always proved difficult to penetrate," she says.
Eston Technology is developing a range of sunglasses fitted with an MP3 and a Bluetooth MP3/MP4 player. "We have an innovative design team that develops new items, while the company itself has more than 10 years' experience in developing electronic goods," Cheung adds.
MP3 players are also big business for LNB Business Development Co, which manufactures the Xtreme MP3 player with radio and Xtreme FM autoscan radio with LCD screen and tone and alarm function.
The six-year-old company has its own Zero brand and requires minimum orders of 500 MP3 players and 2,000 radios, both of which are delivered approximately 30 days after order confirmation.
LNB's major markets are the UK and Europe, explains manager Louise Au Yeung. "The most difficult market is the US, as it appears that many of our products are aimed at European consumers who have different requirements and tastes," she says.
She believes that the personal audio industry will continue to expand, developing new technology product areas with a concurrent expansion of improvements in design.
"Within the industry the trend is towards greater value for money, either in the form of additional but compatible features, or simply better value," Au Yeung maintains.
This is music to the ears of Hong Kong portable audio manufacturers, who are committed to maintaining their competitive advantage by developing new ideas and fresh features for consumers worldwide.
WRITTEN BY JEFF HESELWOOD