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Otto, a brand well known in industries as varied as airplane manufacturing, the space program, law enforcement and emergency response, has announced its first foray into the consumer market with a line of communications and audio accessories.
The 46-year-old company has built a solid reputation for its design and engineering of precision products like switches for landing gear on Boeing aircraft and NASA space shuttles, as well as wireless two-way communications systems for police, firefighters and helicopter pilots. Now it is looking to translate its four-plus decades of technological know-how into a line of consumer headphone and headset products that tout superior technology without the added cost of expensive design elements or elaborate packaging.
"What really differentiates us in the marketplace is our focus on quality and performance rather than cosmetic appearance," said John Rehayem, sales director. "One could argue that audio accessory products have become commoditized, but Otto's reputation for delivering heavy-duty, reliable communications products to high stakes professionals like SWAT and other law enforcement professionals separates us from the pack."
The philosophy is espoused in the company's advertising tag line: "Because you don't hear with your eyes."
Otto's launch into the CE market will include a self-contained wireless MP3 headset, a Bluetooth cellular car kit/speaker and a surround-sound stereo headset, among others.
The wireless MP3 player headset, what the company calls an "entertainment center-in-a-headset," is a 512MB plug-and-play, behind-the-head model that supports MP3 and WMA formats. It can hold about 120 songs and is compatible with Microsoft's PlaysForSure digital rights management standards.
It has a rechargeable 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery that offers up to eight hours of continuous play without charging, according to the company. The headset offers multiple equalization modes including pop, classic, jazz, rock and normal. Music can be dragged and dropped from a PC to the headset's memory via USB cable, with no software required. It has a suggested retail of $84.95.
The Bluetooth cellular car kit includes a wireless headset and a speakerphone, both with multifunction buttons for easy control. Weighing in at 2.56 ounces, the headset is compatible with most Bluetooth-enabled cellular devices and is embedded with digital signal processing technology for sound quality. The headset has a range of 33 feet and gets up to four hours of talktime, or up to 100 hours of standby time from a single charge. The speakerphone component plugs into a vehicle's 12-volt port.
One unique feature is the inclusion of a rechargeable battery in the speakerphone, allowing hands-free and wire-free speakerphone use outside of the vehicle for up to six hours. The kit will retail for a suggested $129.95. The 0.32-ounce headset is also sold separately, without the speaker, for $69.95.
The surround-sound stereo headset, for use with MP3 players, gaming systems or a PC, boasts digitally enhanced SRS surround technology. The over-the-head style ear-cup headset gets 50 hours of battery life from two alkaline batteries, according to Otto. It includes volume control on the ear cup. The headsets have twin 40mm neodymium speakers for maximum bass response. The headset retails for $39.95.
A noise-canceling headset, for use with MP3 players or airline sound systems, has on/off active noise-canceling control with an LED indicator. The over-the-head style ear-cup headset boasts up to 60 hours of battery life from one alkaline battery. It also has volume control on the ear cup and twin 40mm neodymium speakers. The headset folds flat for storage. It retails for $49.95.
Otto is also debuting two multimedia stereo computer headsets with boom microphones for VoIP calling, video conferencing and interactive computer gaming. The USB version retails for $34.95 and a SKU with a 3.5mm connector is $29.95.
The company has several other products in development to be introduced later in the year.
Rehayem laid out for TWICE a comprehensive marketing plan targeted to Gen-Y consumers and early adopters. The plan will support retail efforts year round and includes co-op ads and catalog placement with retailers such as Micro Center and SkyMall, search-engine optimization and marketing, and online advertising. An e-commerce Web site, www.hearotto.com, has been launched and some viral advertising, including a YouTube video, is planned for the coming months. In addition, Reyahem said, introductory kits with product samples are being sent to industry influencers such as reviewers, columnists and bloggers.
"Otto is a company founded on innovation, built on quality and recognized worldwide for outstanding product engineering, manufacturing excellence and unmatched dedication to service and support every step of the way," said John Towns, sales and marketing VP. "We decided it was time for the every day consumer to tune into the audio performance levels enjoyed previously only by high-stakes professionals."
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.