By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Two new brands — Audiovox and Oregon Scientific — are ready and willing to enter the cordless phone category following last year's exit of Sony, Toshiba and Casio.
Audiovox is actually reentering the cordless phone market after an absence of about 20 years, said Ralph Ettna, Consumer Products Group VP. Audiovox was concerned back then with the voice quality of cordless technology, but now that cordless technology has matured, the time is ripe for another foray, he said.
"We see the cordless business as a stepping stone from our cellphone success, building on our brand," Ettna added.
The company's initial strategy will focus on a "narrow stock assortment" of cordless phones aimed at the higher end of the market.
The lineup for 2003 will be modest, with a total of four digital models in the 2.4GHz spectrum. All will be expandable up to a total of four handsets with suggested price points from $69.95 to $169.95.
The TL1100 features caller ID and hands-free operation and will be available in April for a suggested $69.95. The TL1102 adds an additional handset to the TL1100 and will retail for a suggested $129.95. The accessory handset (the T1000) is sold separately for a suggested $59.95.
In July, the company will ship the TL1200A, which features an integrated digital answering machine and caller ID for a suggested $119.95.
Audiovox is not looking to enter the 900MHz and entry-level ends of the category but plans to go head-to-head with the higher end offerings of VTech, Uniden and Motorola, Ettna said.
The company is also "looking into" 5.8GHz phones, and Ettna said there should be movement on that front perhaps by the end of the fourth quarter but more likely in 2004.
Oregon Scientific made its first branded entry into the cordless phone market with two uniquely styled products. President Jim Boyle said the company is not looking to engage in the fierce price wars that have driven out previous competitors.
"We're looking to enhance profitability, and we believe there is a place in the cordless market for differentiated products that offer a lifestyle enhancement," Boyle said.
The company's 2003 offerings include the TE9888 Bedroom Phone, a 900MHz analog unit that features an AM/FM alarm clock radio on the base station. The phone features a 40-channel autoscan, power saving standby mode, last-number redial memory and a flash key. The suggested retail is $99.99.
The TW338 Thermo Dect Phone is a 2.4GHz analog phone whose base station functions as a display for weather conditions, time and temperature. The phone uses Oregon Scientific's wireless weather sensor technology, which transmits temperature and relative humidity from an outdoor sensor to the base unit at 433MHz.
The phone features a 10-memory speed dial, storage of up to 40 caller ID numbers, and Spanish, English or French options. It has a suggested retail price of $129.99.
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