Suppliers are developing pocket radio models with feature add-ons and multiple-band capability.
China manufacturers of pocket radios are stimulating the mature industry with value-added products that offer more features and functions, content and design options. Shifting from traditional units that intensified competition in the line in previous years, suppliers are developing solar, Internet and DAB versions. Some are releasing varieties with multiple bands to expand users’ program sources.
Riding on the trend for energy-saving and environment-friendly electronics, major China players Shenzhen Keri Technology Co. Ltd and Zhejiang Shengbo Electronic Co. Ltd have released solar pocket radios. The former’s RD135 model can also charge via a USB port. It has a DSP IC and a built-in 1,200mAh battery. Zhejiang Shengbo’s SB-1059 model supports FM, AM and WB bands. When fully charged, the unit can continuously play up to 7hr.
For solar pocket radios, makers are pushing multifunction vaiants, including those with built-in flashlight, charger for various devices, and hand-cranked generator. In addition, companies are starting to use energy-efficient solar cells such as monocrystalline to enable longer playback time.
Suppliers manufacturing Internet radios are adding functions to increase the product’s marketability. Aside from adopting more portable designs and powerful ICs, they are incorporating support for various A/V formats, larger LCDs, more ports, RDS, DAB, recording and SNS. Some also emphasize software and hardware R&D.
Meanwhile, development efforts in the DAB segment involve DAB+/DMB and Internet radio reception, EuP, SAA and MEPS compliance, and iPod/iPhone/iPad docking. Releases work with several A/V files and more radio bands, and have recording and RDS functions.
As regards multiband radios, makers predict supply will rise in coming months. Generally positioned as midrange and upscale as opposed to single-band varieties, the former type currently ships to the EU, the US, South America and the Middle East. Enterprises foresee a decline in the output of the latter, while manufacture of two-band radios will remain stable. Zhengzhou Habong Electronic Science & Technology Co. Ltd offers the model P-306 multiband radio, which receives FM1, FM2 and AM channels. The product has an LCD that shows the frequency modulation and time. The company’s P-1210 model supports 12 bands, including FM, MW and SW1 to 10.
Manufacturers are also enabling recording, auto-tuning system or ATS and audio playback, and adding memory card slots, USB ports and digital displays. Many are concentrating on deviceswith lower noise, and higher power, sensitivity and S/N ratio. Companies are developing private molds to differentiate their releases.
All these initiatives are part of makers’ efforts to broaden market reach and boost sales. New-generation products are aimed at helping players break into the midrange and high-end segment. This is because even though demand is forecast to be steady, pocket radios, especially low-end ones, compete directly with radio-equipped electronic devices such as mobile phones and portable media players. But as the function is merely a value add-on in the last two lines, they are not expected to affect upscale varieties, which is one of the reasons China suppliers are expanding to more advanced configurations. Such types will be targeted at Europe, North America and the Middle East. Despite this trend, conventional pocket radios will continue to dominate output in the next 12 months.
Pocket radio manufacturing in China has not changed much in recent years. Pointer and digital display models continue to be mainstream even as digital tuning variants gain momentum.
Regardless of type, standard units support FM and AM bands, and have LCD screens, stereo speakers and earphone jacks. AA and AAA batteries provide power.
Entry-level varieties, which make up 30 percent of total supply, receive FM channels and have LED indicators on top of the basic features. The housings are PS or ABS. Midrange versions, which account for 50 percent of the yield, play WB, TV and SW bands aside from FM and AM. They also have time power on/off, alarm and digital clock functions, and external DC input interface. Zhengzhou Habong’s HB-301 model incorporates an LCD, time power on/off and digital clock. It streams audio in one AM and two FM bands.
Upscale products support more bands and are equipped with hi-fi speakers, ATS, and recording, lighting, charging and MP3 playback capability. Taking up 20 percent of output, these boast PLL and DSP, and incorporate a USB port and an SD/MMC slot. Rechargeable batteries or solar panel provide power. The units come in metal alloy housings. The SB-5020B model from Zhejiang Shengbo is an upscale pocket solar radio that also charges portable digital electronics and mobile phones. In addition, it can generate power through a hand crank. It likewise functions as a lighting device.
Pocket radio ICs are purchased locally or from providers in Japan, the EU and the US, including RDA Microelectronics, Toshiba, NXP and Silicon Labs. LCD panels and speakers are sourced in China. Supply of all components and raw materials such as plastic and copper is expected to be stable in the months ahead. The cost of chips, LCD panels and speakers will remain the same, but that of raw materials such as plastic will escalate due to rising oil prices. Interviewed companies predict export quotes will stay at current levels or increase by 5 percent in the next six months. The appreciation of the yuan has exceeded 3 percent, pushing up production outlay. Makers are exercising internal cost control, but would have to raise rates if this continues.
China has fewer than 250 companies supplying pocket radios. About 80 percent of them are based in Guangdong province and are either small or midsize private operations. OEM and ODM projects are their main income generators. Ninety percent of Shenzhen Keri’s business, for instance, is anchored on contracts under the first category. ODM orders account for 30 percent of Zhengzhou Habong’s exports, and the share continues to increase, according to the company.
The actual output ranges from 10,000 to more than 200,000 units every month. Zhengzhou Habong can churn out 300,000 to 400,000 units each month. Zhejiang Shengbo’s actual monthly output of pocket solar radios averages 60,000. The maker predicts this will reach 400,000 to 500,000 units in the next six months.
The EU and the US are the main overseas destinations. Makers catering to these areas offer midrange and upscale releases, including multifunction and multiband varieties, and those with advanced radio receivers. Zhejiang Shengbo ships 90 percent of its pocket solar radios to the two areas, while Shenzhen Modeltime Electronics Co. Ltd said orders from both are rising.
Other suppliers are growing their Middle East, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia markets. The first is currently the main destination for Shenzhen Keri’s outbound deliveries. The first two make up 70 to 80 percent of Zhengzhou Habong’s exports. These emerging locations favor single- or dual-band varieties, and occasionally multiband types.
Hong Kong suppliers are keeping their pocket radio lineup fresh with contemporary and aesthetically pleasing designs and other value-added features. Many new models resemble MP3 players or even the iPod. These often pack digital displays and support private listening via earphones or headphones. Pager-style belt clips or neck straps are included in units targeted at users on-the-go. In some series, the faceplates are detachable and interchangeable.
For enhanced listening experience, many pocket radios incorporate high-sensitivity tuners, full-range speakers and bass boost. Retro types also have external telescopic antennas.
Some makers are releasing environment-friendly, crank dynamo variants with built-in batteries. They often include extra functions such as an LED flashlight, a siren or a mobile phone charger. Dual-power dynamo+external battery versions are an option. The pen type is also a popular multifunction subcategory. Several suppliers concentrate on DAB or Internet radios.
There are companies focusing on wearable designs. Headphone, armband and pendant radios fall under this segment. Units in novelty shapes target the gifts and premiums industry. Among the best-sellers are the beer bottle, zodiac sign, flower, fruit and hat figures.
Hong Kong has about 50 suppliers of pocket radios, many of which have been providing transistor types for at least 20 years. The product’s low price and capability to deliver news, commentaries, weather updates, live sports events and emergency alerts make it a sought-after device. Enterprises, however, admit the line has long ceased to be a major electronic export category. In fact, some EMS providers that offer pocket radio manufacturing services have stopped launching new models.
Honwell Group’s Ria Co. Ltd carries pocket DAB/DAB+ and Internet radios, iPod/iPhone docks and LED lamps. Its model CKD772 pocket DAB/DAB+ radio has DLS, FM, RDS, a 1.5in CSTN display and a headphone jack.
Global Marketing Development Ltd, which exports radios to Europe, Japan and other parts of Asia, specializes in portable and stylish devices such as the model DA100 pocket DAB/DAB+/FM radio. The product comes with a 1.5in CSTN display, and supports AVI, FLV, MP3 and WMA formats.
Coby Mfg Co. Ltd’s array of personal electronics includes the CX90, a sleek digital pocket AM/FM radio with a sensitive tuner, backlit digital display, dynamic bass boost system and clock functions. The company also supplies LCD TVs, tablet PCs and MP3 players.
Coby Mfg Co. Ltd
Global Marketing Development Ltd
Ria Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Keri Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Modeltime Electronics Co. Ltd
Zhejiang Shengbo Electronic Co. Ltd
Zhengzhou Habong Electronic Science & Technology Co. 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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