Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 10 News List

BenQ targeting young consumers with new MP3s

SUMMER SALES PUSH The company's two new models are expected to appeal to the demand for novelty and variety among young people

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Consumer electronics vendors are hoping a variety of new MP3 players will create a buying spree by targeting young consumers with strong purchasing power in the peak summer season.

"MP3 players, like [mobile phone] handsets, are more like stylish accessories to young consumers than merely electronics products now," said Danny Yao (姚鴻州), managing director of BenQ Asia Pacific Corp (明基亞太), the marketing arm of BenQ Corp (明基電通), at a press conference yesterday.

The company unveiled two new models of flash-based MP3 players with capacities of 128 megabytes -- capable of storing up to eight hours of music -- and 256 megabytes, which were priced at NT$2,990 and NT$5,990

respectively.

BenQ said these products are the world's first flash-based MP3 players with a changeable shell and they are aimed at young consumers' appetite for novelty and variety.

The company has sold some 40,000 MP3 players since the product was launched here last November, said Asia Wang (王晴儀), a marketing specialist at BenQ Asia Pacific.

BenQ is one of the top three companies in the MP3-player sector, with a share of between 15 percent and 20 percent in the local market, where an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 units are sold per month, Wang said.

Wang said that her company hopes to sell 100,000 to 120,000 devices this year.

Emulating Apple Computer Inc's iPod, BenQ launched its own legal music download service, QBand, in March. QBand charges between NT$20 and NT$35 per song. However, the company's download business has not done very well, as many consumers still prefer downloading free music files via peer-to-peer filesharing networks.

The service has only recruited about 10,000 new members since its inauguration, in addition to the 300,000 members of Club BenQ, a Web site that also provides downloadable desktop pictures for computers and ring tones for mobile phones, said Nicolas Chang (張詒明), marketing manager of BenQ's digital music center.

Chang said the downloading business is an unstable one, and that the number of downloads could drop steeply once the promotions slack off.

Apple's new iPod Mini is expected to hit the shelves here later this month or early next month, according to an employee at Apple's Taiwan branch.

The actual price of the iPod Mini here might be slightly higher than the list price of US$249, the employee said.

Apple saw worldwide sales of the iPod and iPod Mini reach 3 million units as of last month. Shipments of both iPod versions surged to 807,000 units in the quarter that ended in March from 80,000 a year earlier, Apple said.

Apple's download service, iTunes, saw its billionth song downloaded last Sunday.

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