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Plantronics Working Toward A Wireless Future

New York – Emphasizing that wireless headsets ‘are on the verge of mainstream,’ Plantronics president/CEO Ken Kannappan told analysts gathered here at a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) conference today that a key to this explosion is ‘people want to be wireless.’

Plantronics, which was a first-time host for a NYSE event of this type, was on board both to celebrate the introduction of four new headsets – including cellular/mobile and office units – as well as to paint a broad picture of direction in the business.

Its new mobile phone headset, the M3000 Bluetooth, is said to include unparalleled sound quality and talk time. The unit, compatible with Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones and smart phones, offers a noise-canceling microphone and intuitive controls to make on-the-go answering and call- ending effortless.

Shipment of this second-generation Bluetooth headset for cellular phones is set for August at a suggested retail of $99 to $119. Talk time, however, will grow to a maximum eight hours from the current model’s approximate four hours, about 70 percent better than the best current-generation models, said Plantronics. Standby time will go to 200 hours on its nickel-metal hydride battery.

The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company shipped 4.3 million cellphone headsets last year, and Kannappan, who believes Bluetooth will be the key market driver for mobile units in the future. He expects 14 million phones overall with Bluetooth will be shipped in 2004.

Plantronics’ mobile and home headsets, which account for about 28 percent of company revenue – office headsets hold the bulk of the business – are pushing forward with a number of key benefits, said Kannappan. These include safety, comfort, convenience and ease of hearing and being heard. The integration of voice dialing is an additional feature that will help boost interest, he said.

Analysts, briefed on Plantronics’ financial goals, can expect a targeted 20 percent operating margin, which would require the company to hit the $100 million quarterly revenue mark. Plantronics also said it expects to improve operating margin 25 percent year over year.