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Despite the skittish economy, sales of higher end, more powerful General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios are gaining rapidly, say suppliers.
Audiovox said GMRS could reach 15 percent of its total FRS sales this year while NPD INTELECT, Port Washington, N.Y., said GMRS accounted for approximately four percent of FRS unit sales from January through April of this year.
"GMRS is a very bright star. Surprisingly, it seems to have a very broad appeal," said Audivox VP consumer goods, Ralph Etna. "We haven't pinpointed the customer yet, although I suspect it could be the parents buying them, more than the kids. Every week they are gravitating more and more to GMRS. Last year the category was in its infancy, this year it will be 15 percent of our business in units, and it's growing," Etna said.
Midland said GMRS is hitting within five percent of its projected target for the industry. Said senior VP John Chass, "If you look at all of the focus study groups, the one thing that people say they want in an FRS transceiver is more range. They're not asking for weather or changeable front or smaller or thinner; they want more range and GMRS satisfies that."
Cobra claims its new GMRS PR1000 and PR2000 units have sold "extremely well" and the company plans to ship a new, low priced model in August, according to senior VP Tony Mirabelli. The new model, called the PR900, will have 15 channels (7 FRS and 8 GMRS) with 38 privacy codes, built in VOX, Nickel Metal Hydride battery and charger at a suggested retail price of $79 each.
Motorola said it is completely revamping its GMRS in the near future to bring pricing "in line with new aggressive price points," said director of FRS marketing, Larry O'Shaughnessy. "We recognize that GMRS is becoming a much more visible and strategic part of the market and we will have a much more competitive solution in the short term. You are seeing more retailers start to pick it up such as Best Buy," he continued. Total industry GMRS sales reached 80,000 to 100,000 units during the first quarter of this year, he said, compared to approximately 150,000 units for the entire year in 2000.
Unwired, also noting that consumers are demanding more range, said it will enter the GMRS segment this September. The company's new model is the GMR 3000 offering 3-watt output and seven mile range with 7 FRS and 14 GMRS channels. The GMR 3000 is expected to carry a suggested retail price of $99 per unit.
Uniden will also offer its first GMRS unit in August. The model GMRS 480 comes with nickel metal hydride batteries, wall charger and headset phones at $100 per unit.
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.