Thursday, 27 October 2011 15:20

Jabra announces new headsets, looks to the future

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Headset specialist Jabra has announced a pair of entry-level professional wireless headsets. One is intended for use with conventional desk phones, the other with unified communications applications, softphones, and applications such as Skype.

The Jabra PRO 920 wireless headset works with "all leading desk phones" and uses DECT technology to avoid interference from other transmissions and provide a range of up to 120m. A noise-cancelling microphone reduces problems caused by noisy offices, and the earphone volume is automatically controlled to block sudden peaks and to ensure safe average sound levels.

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The battery provides up to eight hours of talk time or 36 hours on standby, and charges in less than three hours. A half charge is achieved in 50 minutes.

The Jabra PRO 930 has a similar design and features, but has a USB port for connection to Windows-based PCs. There's a general purpose version that works with various softphones and UC software, plus a specific version for plug-and-play use with Lync 2010 and Office Communicator.

Australian prices have yet to be announced.

Mogens Elsberg, president and CEO of Jabra told iTWire that office headsets account for approximately two-thirds of the company's business, with mobile (Bluetooth) headsets making up the rest. Sales are growing at 15% year-on-year globally, and by over 30% in Australia, driven largely by the unified communications market.

"The last three feet is important" (ie, from the desk to the user's head) in order to get the most from the overall investment, said Mark Leigh, president of the company's Asia Pacific operations. A more comfortable headset is used more, making staff more productive.

What's ahead for headsets? See page 2.

 


Mr Leigh noted that 70 to 80% of companies are expected to adopt unified communications systems over the next five years. "The call centre's still growing, but it's not growing at the same rate as unified communications," he said.

Fulvio Toniotto, managing director of GN Netcom ANZ (Jabra), said the company's large local customers include NAB, KPMG, the Australian Taxation Office, and various other government organisations. In Australia and New Zealand, demand for office headsets is divided approximately equally between corded and wireless models, but the efficiency benefits of wireless headsets means that segment is seeing stronger growth.

Mr Leigh noted that the same was true in other developed markets, though countries noted for operating contact centres bought a higher proportion of corded models.

On average, headsets are replaced every 2.4 years, he said. This is driven partly by wear and tear (especially where corded headsets are in use for three shifts a day, as in some call centres), but also to gain the advantages of new features.

One such feature is the ability to update headset software from a central location, as is the common practice with PCs. This makes it easy to keep all users on the same version, and is something that Jabra has brought to the industry, Mr Leigh said.

Looking ahead, Mr Elsberg expects speech recognition will become increasingly important in the headset market. That's not just a question of making sure that the headset works well with whatever speech recognition features are supported by the connected device, but actually being able to speak into the headset to select which of the connected devices is to be used (some Jabra headsets can connect to two or three devices simultaneously), along the lines of "tell my desk phone to call John."

"That's a technology that will explode," he said.

 


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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