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Bluetooth headsets aim to be 'cool'

Posted: 11 Feb 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bluetooth headset? handset market? consumer electronic?

Bluetooth headset was initially a success story shipping over 40 million units within the first four years of its launch. However, the industry has seen a 20 to 30 percent decline in the number of headsets shipped in 2009. The most obvious and detrimental factor which has influenced this trend is of course the economic downturn. However, there have been issues which have meant that the Bluetooth headset market has felt the effects of the economic downturn more significantly than other markets. Those issues, particularly relevant to the Bluetooth headset market, are more concerned with consumer's perceptions and opinions. Incisor TV's recent string of Bite-back events support this view; a high percentage of consumers who attended spoke out against Bluetooth suggesting that wearing a Bluetooth headset was perceived to be very "un-cool".

Headset manufacturers are already attempting to overcome these perceptions and opinions shared by some consumers by offering new, innovative designs, which aim to make their products much trendier to look at and wear. Despite speaking out against Bluetooth headsets, when questioned, the majority of attendees were relatively impressed with features that are available on headsets and the concept of Bluetooth technology. New compelling features and functions, such as voice recognition and solar-powered headsets, offer headset manufacturers the opportunity to develop the device in a way which makes it a "cool" product to own.

Another key factor the industry should consider is that there are a large number of low-cost, poor-quality headsets that are available for consumers today. The fact that these devices have poor sound quality and are very difficult to pair for the average consumer, discourages consumers to re-purchase and promotes negative word-of-mouth. However, many consumers might be prepared to spend that bit extra to obtain better sound quality and most understand that the price they pay is equivalent to the quality they will receive. Despite this, the image of the headset industry will not be helped by an increasing share of the market consisting of sub $40 headsets, which offer below average sound quality.

Sennheiser, a high-end headset manufacturer, is already looking at ways to improve the sound quality offered by stereo headsets through their latest headphonesthe PX210BT and the PXC310BT. Both devices use codec technologies (in this case, APTX),to offer a high-quality sound solution which aims to help diminish the image of poor sound quality associated with some, low-cost headsets.

Being an accessory and not a necessity has worsened the effects the current economic climate has had on the demand for Bluetooth headsets. Despite the haunting effects the economic downturn has had on the mono headset market, progress made with one particular handset manufacturer helped provide the industry with optimism that there was still some hope for the stereo headset market. These recent developments which saw A2DP, the stereo headset Bluetooth profile, being used in the iPhone and portable media players, helped encourage and seed the market for stereo headsets, counteracting some of the impact of the recession.

Considering all factors discussed above, IMS Research estimates that although the Bluetooth headset market may struggle to recover as quickly as other consumer electronic markets, the total volume of Bluetooth headsets is forecast to be in touching distance of those shipped in 2008 by 2011.

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