8 Feb 2005
Sending A Clear Signal(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 01,2005)
Accutone Technologies Ltd
"Clearer communications brings people closer" is an apt slogan for Accutone Technologies Ltd, established in 1995 as a subsidiary of the Wing Cheong Group that has been manufacturing loudspeakers and other acoustic products since 1969.
Accutone initially made a variety of headsets for different applications, including computers and mobile phones, but three years ago dropped most of its product lines to focus primarily on telephone headsets.
Now, however, thanks to a convergence of technologies, the company finds itself back in the computer headset business meeting the growing demand for USB headsets for Internet telephony applications.
"Because bandwidth across the world has improved to a significant degree, people can talk using computer terminals," explains marketing director Howard Soo. "The USB headset replaces the telephone terminal, so the entire telephone interface is within the computer."
Soo admits it's a big step for Accutone. "We are exploring new territory in terms of working within both markets," he adds.
Uncharted territory or not, it is a shrewd move for Accutone as business is fully aware of the benefits of cutting edge Internet-based telecommunications equipment - even if non-professional users have been slow to catch on.
"Many consumers don't yet understand why they need a much more expensive USB headset as opposed to a normal computer headset, so there is an education process required," Soo explains. "At the business end it is well understood how significantly quality improves."
Quality has always been a primary concern for a company whose mission statement emphasises its determination "to deliver excellent quality amplifier and headset solutions at cost-competitive prices".
"Our prices are higher than other Chinese mainland-based suppliers," Soo concedes, stressing that his firm does have a strong commitment to product design, both cosmetically and mechanically. "We innovate, and we offer compatibility with a wide range of telephone terminals."
The company's manufacturing facility on the mainland employs approximately 200 people who produce some 20,000 headsets per month, all to the strictest quality control and quality assurance standards.
"The Wing Cheong Group has a number of factories, and we have one just for Accutone - in Buji, Shenzhen - that produces only telephone headsets," Soo explains.
"Production is split 50/50 between our own branded products/ODM work and OEM production to customer specifications," he adds.
"We do a lot of OEM business which involves completely different plastic casing and different requirements for specialised uses."
While the company's major markets to date have been in Western Europe, particularly the UK, Accutone does have a presence in the American market.
However, Soo points out that it is difficult to penetrate the US because of the dominance of big brands, both in the individual and bundled products sectors.
"Germany is important, Spain is increasing and there is a market in Southeast Asia, but demand is relatively small," Soo concedes. "Japan is also very hard to penetrate and, as a market, is similar to the US in some respects."
FOB Hong Kong prices for Accutone's telephone headsets begin at around US$5 per unit, while sets supplied with amplifiers go up to about US$30.
The company produces seven default model headsets that can be delivered in approximately 30 days - though OEM orders to special customer requirements usually take a little longer.
"We will continually design and develop new hands-free solution products to match the needs of customers from all walks of life," Soo concludes.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Accutone Technologies Ltd