‘Multiuse’ for multi-tasking

- Ann Corvera () - August 2, 2008 - 12:00am

The old expression “tied down to one’s desk” is becoming more and more irrelevant with Bluetooth technology and with Jabra leading the way in industry firsts and progressive innovations.

Jabra maker GN Netcom cited a recent study in the United Kingdom showing that only 16 percent of workers spend all of their hours in the office, while 62 percent spend their time meeting with colleagues, attending client meetings and engaging in conference calls.

Of the 150 respondents in the April poll, 75 percent work away from their desks for more than an hour a day, over half of them saying they miss important calls and subsequently spend hours trying to return these calls.

In the Philippines, while corded headsets are very much still alive, the adoption of wireless receivers is gaining ground as “multi-tasking” has become widely practiced in the workplace.

GN Netcom, the world’s leading manufacturer of headsets with its award-winning Jabra brand, is constantly looking for ways to ease the load off professionals highly dependent on communication and at the same time, meet the simplest needs of mobile phone users.

Jabra was the first to launch the now familiar Bluetooth headset in 2000, providing the answer to the hassle of untangling corded earphones.

Now, GN Netcom leads the pack once again by introducing the latest in its “Multiuse” devices — the Jabra M5390.

It gives the phrase “you can run but you can’t hide” a whole new meaning. The M5390 is a multi-tasker’s dream come true as well as for those who spend more time on the road than behind the desk. Even if you’re just one of many who don’t like to waste time using multiple headsets for multiple devices and getting confused as to what goes with which gadget, this one’s for you.

The M5390 — part of what GN Netcom calls “Discover Freedom” devices — allows simultaneous connection to a desk phone, a PC or laptop softphone, or a mobile phone. It has a range of 70 meters from your desk and boasts of audio-enhanced quality that gives the user the flexibility and freedom to use one headset for all forms of digital communication.

“What we say here is that if you haven’t used Jabra you haven’t discovered freedom,” says Shaz Khan, GN Netcom president and managing director for the Asia-Pacific.

The M5390’s operating range of 70 meters or 230 feet is the first in the world, Khan points out during the recent launch of four new Jabra products, including the M5390.

Khan highlights the trend of “convergence” in the market for headsets. “People want to be able to use this technology in a way that allows them to be free from cables and wires. But more importantly it allows you to use it in all environments,” he says.

Among many other firsts in headset technology, GN Netcom is the pioneer in eliminating noisy background as it did in 1991 with the first “ultra noise-canceling microphone.”

Lest it be mistaken that Jabra is only for the busy professional, on the contrary its wide range of products caters to anyone who can’t get through a day without using a mobile phone.

“What you’ll see are really cool products which are all about technology and design, but we also have mainstream designs, basically lower-end products, effectively addressing the mainstream market,” says Khan.

The new Jabra products are aimed at the fast-growing Philippine market for telecom services and products. Apart from the M5390, the new Bluetooth headset models include the GN9120, BT8040, and T5330, all available in the market now.

Communication simplified

Pairing up your typical Jabra headset with a mobile phone is so simple; it takes only less than a minute and you’re good to go. GN Netcom maintains the same simple principle in its latest models, even as it has come up with more intricate technology and usefulness unlike any other.

Multiuse, for one, features MultiPoint technology that allows synchronized connection to several devices enabled by Bluetooth, which — for those still uneducated on this tool — is a radio technology developed to deliver short-range wireless mobility.

GN Netcom promises the M5390 to be compatible with most desk phone systems, and the A335w Bluetooth dongle, which comes with the package, is compliant with a wide range of PC-based softphones. It has Bluetooth 2.0 compliance and is compatible with other Bluetooth devices with Bluetooth 1.1 or higher specifications.

This model can make a desk phone become mobile and can be paired with two different devices at once with a talk time and standby time of up to six hours separately. Weighing only 15 grams, you’ll hardly notice that something is sticking out of your ear. The M5390 offers wideband audio when used with the A335w dongle and a softphone.

Joining the M5390 in multiuse capability is the Jabra BT8040, or what GN calls the “king of multiuse headsets.” The BT8040 can be paired with up to eight devices and allows you to take calls from various mobile phones, desk phones or a computer, or even listen to a music player. It also provides acoustic shock protection to shield your ear from sudden loud noises, GN Netcom says.

The GN9120, meanwhile, sets new standards for professional communication in noisy office environments. “In the Philippines, we are launching our new category of Office Wireless Portfolio — the GN 9120, one of the first wireless headsets under the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) 2.4 Ghz category to be type-approved for the Philippine market,” Khan says.

With a range of up to 150 meters and talk time of up to 12 hours, GN Netcom says the GN9120 will allow Filipino executives and office personnel to get more things done.

On top of that, Khan says that with conference calls becoming a way of life in today’s business world, the GN9120’s multi-unit conferencing capability lets up to four headsets join in on a call. The GN9120 is likewise compatible with virtually any phone, GN Netcom says.

Last but not least in the latest array of Jabra offerings is the T5330, a very affordable and stylish headset that allows you to connect to your office landline and answer calls from a range of 30 feet.

Each product has different price points and as Khan explains, each country as well is a different market with individual market dynamics. “The pricing of any product is really dependent on a host of factors that one has to deal with in any country. Hence, pricing becomes subjective to each country due to prevailing dynamics and ways of things,” he says. During the launch, Khan reports though that the M5390’s suggested retail price is around $399.

Being the global leader and innovator in the headset market has comfortably placed GN Netcom in strategic alliances and partnerships with leading manufacturers of mobile phones, PDAs and PCs, thus, compatibility is not an issue. Says Khan, “Generally we have a lot of innovative solutions that cater to different target markets and also compliment MP3 players, the IP software and other hardware markets as well.”

Targeting call centers

The name Jabra is rapidly getting the same popular brand recall to Filipinos as Colgate is for toothpaste and San Miguel for beer. Still, Khan says a lot of people don’t even know the technology exists and that he makes it his mission to get the message out on what is actually available for consumers.

“In the Philippines there are about 40 million mobile phone subscribers. Well guess what, until every single one of those mobile phone users has a Bluetooth headset attached to them, I’m not gonna be happy.”

Jabra is currently present in over 70 countries, selling in over 80,000 retail outlets and over a thousand channel and strategic partners, reports Khan.

Last year alone, GN Netcom manufactured a total of 27 million units globally — that’s more than 50 every minute. It estimates the market for headsets to be worth approximately $2.5 billion, rapidly growing at 17 percent year-on-year.

The key part of the story, Khan says, is the market’s growth in the Asia-Pacific region. GN Netcom cites a forecast of IMS Research, a supplier of market studies on the global electronics industry, that the worldwide market for Bluetooth headsets will grow to 90 million units this year, reaching 199 million by 2011.

Khan predicts that beginning 2011, the Asia-Pacific region will account for 25 percent of all the Bluetooth headsets in the market.

In the Philippines, a major player in global outsourcing, GN Netcom has call centers as prime market target with 90 percent of its business derived from them. Khan says, “It’s not about how many call centers are there, it’s about how many office users are there.”

This year, call centers have grown to 100,000 seats in the Philippines, posting the highest growth rate — 23 percent — in the Asia-Pacific region. Therein lies a huge business potential, and says Khan, “We are actually the leader in that market space.”

According to GN Netcom, 60 percent of the country’s top contact centers use Jabra headsets. Among the Jabra models that cater to contact centers and offices are JX10 with a Bluetooth hub, GN9330, and GN9350.

Despite the popularity of Bluetooth headsets, Jabra also offers corded headsets and headset amplifiers and accessories.

Headquartered in Denmark with a research and development center in China, GN Netcom has been helping people communicate since 1869 when it was involved in the telegraph business.

Khan attributes GN Netcom’s longevity to progressive innovation in terms of solutions and technology — and it doesn’t matter which era we are in. “Consumers really dictate the direction the market takes and the direction technology takes,” he says.

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