Makers of USB peripherals are releasing models with improved features to survive competition.
DVB devices continue to lead China’s output of USB peripherals. The category represents about 60 percent of the country’s total production in the line. Both external and internal types are available, with the first device topping development initiatives and having an 85 percent share of output. Suppliers are designing more compact models to match portability trends. Releases are likewise improved to support prevailing OS such as Windows 7 and Android.
Companies, including Newmi Digital Technology Co. Ltd, will launch external USB DVB devices that are at least 20 percent smaller than existing varieties.
Internal USB DVB devices, meanwhile, will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace than external types. Enterprises such as Shenzhen Forward Video Co. Ltd are cooperating with PC manufacturers to expand the sector.
Makers also offer USB audio, video and SATA/IDE adapters. They constitute 40 percent of total output.
The majority of products run on USB 2.0, which will remain the de facto interface in coming months. Models based on the standard are priced lower than USB 3.0 varieties. Only a few companies plan to launch devices adopting the latter amid weak demand.
China’s USB peripherals manufacturers are fortifying the line against threat from portable electronics such as tablet PCs and mobile Internet devices that integrate USB functionality. Many see demand falling by 10 percent this year. To attract orders, makers are releasing more compact and portable types suited for various applications.
Nevertheless, enterprises remain optimistic that despite the anticipated slump, competitive prices will buoy the segment. USB DVB devices and video adapters, which list at $10, are significantly less expensive than tablet PCs and MIDs. Suppliers also believe that some customers will still prefer USB peripherals for their mature technology compared with portable devices.
China’s output of USB peripherals reached 10 million units in 2010. The country has approximately 50 manufacturers. The maker pool has dropped by 10 percent as several shifted focus to other products. For instance, Shenzhen SinoVideo Invent Digital Technology Co. Ltd will begin developing tablet PCs with USB DVB functions this year.
Enterprises are exploring emerging markets to boost margins. This comes amid a decrease in orders from Europe, which accounted for the bulk of shipments in past years. Manufacturers are now venturing into Asia and South America as the regions begin to adopt the European standard of digital television. Shenzhen Forward will focus on Russia to take advantage of growing demand there, which climbed 10 percent in 2H10 and is projected to hit 15 percent by end-2011. Anticipating the increase, the maker expects the country to account for 25 percent of its total output for USB peripherals this year.
Newmi, meanwhile, has set its sights on South America as orders for USB DVB devices are forecast to climb with Brazil’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014. The upcoming event has jumpstarted efforts to promote digital television.
OEM orders for USB video and audio adapters represented 90 percent of total output in 2010. As for USB DVB devices, ODM and OEM transactions each constituted 50 percent. These trends are expected to continue this year as local buyers opt for variants that meet the national standard for digital TV.
Targeted at broadcast and TV network operators, China makers position their USB DVB devices as midrange and high end. Models belonging to the first support DVB-T protocol, image snapshot, time shifting, scheduled recording, EPG and teletext. Units also enable automatic and manual channel scanning. Upscale variants, meanwhile, come with 1 to 8GB flash memory and deliver SDTV and HDTV.
USB audio and video adapters fall under the low-end category. The former includes a software that can convert analog audio to digital format. In addition to these functions, USB video adapters can facilitate direct transfer from video devices to a DVD/VCD burner and support MPEG-1/2/4.
The key components of USB peripherals are the ICs, PCBs and shells. Most companies expect USB peripherals prices to remain stable this year.
USB peripherals from Hong Kong target the IT and retail, and gifts and premiums sectors. DVB dongles, and audio, video and SATA adapters lead the selection for the first group. Fans, lights and cup warmers dominate the second category. Suppliers, which currently exceed 50 players, can cater to varying customers’ specifications.
Makers are rolling out USB audio adapters with 5.1-channel or hi-fi emulators and converters with phono input. The units, which can function as external sound cards, support recording and come with volume control and a 3.5mm jack. Two-in-one USB audio adapters and USB hubs are also offered.
Some manufacturers target their products at mobile phone users. Kidigi Co. Ltd’s HTC-A2 model is compatible with HTC, O₂ Xda, Dopod and other smartphones. It enables USB data hot synching and conversion through a 3.5mm stereo and an 11-pin earphone jacks.
To complement its selection of audio mixers, DJ decks, and CD and turntable players, Well Joint Technology Ltd is developing USB audio adapters. The AD-007 model comes with input and output options for phono and 3.5mm RCA. The unit is also equipped with recording function and volume adjustment controls. Meanwhile, the supplier’s model AD-008 audio adapter has SD/USB input and MP3 playback controls.
In the gifts and premiums segment, USB fans are widely promoted as handy desktop decor and are available in various shapes and colors. Releases feature fan speed adjustment and enable side-to-side movement. The fan blades are made of nylon, EVA or PU.
Ria Co. Ltd specializes in USB and LED book lights. Its H-792 model boasts five superbright white LEDs and one-touch on/off and dimmer. The unit also comes with a soft-blue uplight and a flexible 6in neck.
USB fan lights and fan hubs are available as well. Some types operate on AAA batteries or have an AC adapter for connection to a wall outlet.
Stiff competition slowed down the development of USB DVB devices last year. Currently, these are offered by DVB receiver suppliers and trading companies working with mainland China enterprises.
East & West Technology Co. Ltd
Kidigi Co. Ltd
Newmi Digital Technology Co. Ltd
Ria Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Forward Video Co. Ltd
Shenzhen SinoVideo Invent Digital Technology Co. Ltd
Well Joint Technology Ltd
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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