Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

Accessories are always a key area for mobile resellers and dealers in terms of adding vital revenue to handset sales, in both the consumer and business spheres. Looking ahead at 2010, what developments and trends are we set to see in the mobile accessories area over coming 12 months?

   

Paul Clark, Plantronics general manager UK and Ireland:

I think that the way we think of mobile accessories is going to change. If we’re honest, most people’s perception of this category in the past has probably fallen into two main categories; the first is a fun way to jazz up your phone with covers, tags and cases; the second is headsets and handsfree kits, traditionally seen as tools to keep people in touch when driving without breaking the law.

The second category is a potential source of growth and revenue for the mobile industry if we can break that perception that it’s all about what you do in the car. This will happen on several fronts.

As technology has improved, and continued to improve, it’s about more than just driving hands free. Noise cancelling technologies mean that using a headset adds value to a mobile phone by improving audio quality, this is already leading to headsets being seen as a business tool rather than a driving accessory, but we see big benefits for consumers too.

Paul Clark, Plantronics general manager
 

Headset design is changing, from the slightly nerdy headsets of the past to sleek, discreet and stylish accessories that are made to compliment the human form. The trend that we’re working towards is that people will choose a headset in much the same was as a pair of sunglasses, earrings, or a tie.

Changes to the way in which people use their mobiles will drive the market for accessories, so as gaming, video and mobile internet become prevalent features of mobile phones, the speakers, headsets, and headphones people choose will need to reflect users needs and expectations in these areas; the headphones delivered in-box with the phone for example, wont suite the needs of an avid gamer, and music lovers who use their phone for media, will expect speakers that deliver a rich natural sound.

Finally, the applications that people use for communication, collaboration and productivity will also drive the development of hardware technology with accessories such as headsets giving a greater degree of control over the phones applications such as media players, messaging and social media.

 

Andrew Doyle, GN Netcom sales director:

Studies have found that far from turning into TV-watching slobs, remote workers actually become more productive thanks to a happier working environment.

Resistance to the concept of remote working in the UK is fading away. Vestiges of concern, among employers about the productivity of employees away from the office, among employees about the diminished potential for promotion, and in general about the required shift in working practices, remain. But, as serious studies have shown, those potential risks are far outweighed, and even entirely contradicted, by the benefits.

Combined with the time and energy saving benefits, remote working is becoming a serious option that ultimately improves productivity.

 

Andrew Doyle, GN Netcom sales

The office is no longer the hub of the working environment as more and more companies arm employees with the tools they need to work successfully regardless of location. Using the right technology for remote working ensures that users can be as productive and efficient at home or on the road as they are in the office.

Organisations need to ensure that remote workers have access to all the same tools as in the office, and converging all of their communication technologies onto one single platform in the form of unified communications can be the perfect solution.

The communications leveraged by unified communications can include phone, email, chat, voice mail, presence services, and fax. The typical software programme unifies these communication mediums so that any activity or message can be easily transferred to another. For businesses, this is resulting in huge benefits such as improved productivity and efficiency among employees as well as the delivery of a consistently high level of customer service.

To maximise investment in unified comms, a headset with full wideband capabilities is recommended to let employees enjoy the superior sound quality that it provides. Most traditional telephony, which is transmitted in the narrowband frequency range (300Hz- 3,600 kHz), doesn’t benefit from crystal clear voice definition. With wideband, this is guaranteed, and users will also benefit from the elimination of background noise via noise cancelling technology as well as protection from sudden loud noises.

 

Ronnie Nag, Quore and QLondon managing director:

We already saw a massive increase in Apple accessories. I think this will be a big area as multiple operators take the Apple iPhone.

I feel it’s all about wireless. We (QLondon) are bringing out a few new products including wireless speakers, that let you share your music with four other headphones at one time.

We need accessories to cater for the buyers needs. It’s all about mobility and doing it all through one device. I can tell you about us, as we are going to be a key player in this market, maybe not for our UK distributors who are more interested in box shifting, but for the rest who understand innovation.

Ronnie Nag, Quore and QLondon
 

Mike Hopkinson, Pama and Co group sales director:

Pama & Co has been able to increase sales rapidly this year through the redevelopment of our own Pama brand and also by working in partnership with our other major brand suppliers such as Cobra electronics, Scala rider, Krusell and Plantronics just to name a few.

That trend of growth and development of the Pama group will continue in the coming months.

As ever, health and safety in all its guises will continue to have a major impact.

The increase in the sales of ‘green’ products is a must, with all the safety issues concerning global warming now at the forefront of all right thinking people(world leaders please take note).

 

Mike Hopkinson, Pama and Co group

Car kits and handsfree accessories are becoming even more relevant, with every company and manufacturer in the UK responsible to push the message that using your mobile in hand whilst driving is against the law. If the government start to really enforce hands free regulations this would lead to a greater uptake of fitted hands free kits or the more economic sun visor kits.

While many company car drivers are now compliant as a result of corporate social responsibility policies, many private drivers are not. It fascinates me how many people on the school runs (usually with a child or baby on board sign on the back) are still seen driving and chatting on the phone with the phone in the hand.

Even in the recession with BlackBerry and iPhone breaking the dominance of Nokia and Sony Ericsson, this has resulted in a more competitive market place for top end handsets and giving the consumer a wider choice and more competitive deals which in turn has resulted in more top end accessories being sold in conjunction with these handsets.

The consumer is now clearly looking for more high end accessories to accompany there high end handsets. We believe we will see more quality leather products such as the Krusell range of cases, laptop bags and fashion cases for the ladies, which is still a huge untapped market.

Mobile broadband is pushing the boundaries further, making speeds even faster for the consumer. Download packages are ever more competitive, so that we are able to communicate and work on the move. This will also be an interesting area of development.

Mobile browsing and music with the iPhone has again pushed the limits on downloads, and it will be interesting which new apps Nokia , Sony Ericsson , BlackBerry , HTC and Samsung develop next to create another ‘Hero phone to be able to compete with the market presence that Apple has created with its iPhone range.

 

Damian Kingsford, Jabra retail and channel marketing manager UK:

In terms of Bluetooth accessories, we expect to see a number of marked improvements across the technology in the next 12 months. Bluetooth will be easier and more accessible for people who perhaps previously thought it was too complicated for them.

As well as increasing demand from former technophobes , the growth in remote working has meant a surge in the number of people wanting to work and take important calls while on the go, and as such, Bluetooth headsets will become an important business tool.

Damian Kingsford, Jabra retail

There has been some stigma attached to Bluetooth headset usage in the past, but Jabra is breaking down these barriers with cutting edge designs and releasing the most stylish and innovative headset solutions signalling a new era in Bluetooth accessories. This new approach to design is perhaps one of the main reasons that more and more people are opting to invest in Bluetooth technology.

As well as style, sound quality is obviously important, and we expect to see a rise in noise blackout technologies which make sure ambient sound is reduced without compromise on voice quality. Functional products with wideband speech technology that double as stylish accessories will become more prevalent as consumers see aesthetics as extremely important when it comes to Bluetooth.

Options for consumers who would rather not have a headset attached to their ear will become more popular over the coming 12 months. Visor mounted speakerphones are a popular choice for those just discovering Bluetooth technology.

Consumers are realising they must stay on the right side of the law and with products that mean you don’t even have to glance away from the road to answer a call make Bluetooth an obvious choice. Higher end products with excellent functionality are a good investment for both the consumer and businessman constantly on the go needing to take calls all day long.

We also expect to see a move towards highly attractive stereo Bluetooth products on the market as younger consumers are more aware of how they look but want the functionality of being able to listen to their favourite music without being tangled up in wires.