Interview: GYANENDRA SINGH, Head of Audio, Sony India: Hybrid working has influenced the demand for audio in India

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June 23, 2021 1:30 AM

In the personal audio segment, work from home (WFH), learn from home (LFH) and workout at home have given further impetus to the already strong demand for headphones.

We have a line-up of supporting built-in voice assistant features such as WH-1000XM4, WF-1000XM3, WF-SP800N and WH-XB900N.We have a line-up of supporting built-in voice assistant features such as WH-1000XM4, WF-1000XM3, WF-SP800N and WH-XB900N.

Sony India has come out with special offers on personal and home audio products and has announced the launch of its portable Bluetooth speaker – SRS-XB13 model, competitively priced at Rs 3,990. Gyanendra Singh, Head of Audio, Sony India, talks to Sudhir Chowdhary about the emerging audio trends in 2021 and how the space has evolved due to changing consumer demand pattern due to work from home and learn from home in the new normal. Excerpts:

How has the personal audio segment emerged post the Covid-19 extended lockdown?
In the personal audio segment, work from home (WFH), learn from home (LFH) and workout at home have given further impetus to the already strong demand for headphones. In addition, in the same household many people are involved in such activities and their need for personal space has also led to spike in sales of active noise cancellation (ANC) devices. So, more and more consumers are looking for good quality ANC headphones and earphones. Sales of truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds have also been very strong. Bluetooth speakers, the versatile device, is also finding favour amongst a lot of consumers for varied usage during the lockdown.

Don’t you think consumers have shown high interest and adaptation to voice assistance in recent times like they did for TWS in 2019?
Absolutely. Voice assistants will continue to offer more personalised experiences as they get better at differentiating between voices. Google Assistant can support up to six user accounts and detect unique voices, which allows Google Home users to customise many features. Similarly, for those using Alexa, simply saying “learn my voice” will allow users to create separate voice profiles so the technology can detect who is speaking for more personalised experiences. We have a line-up of supporting built-in voice assistant features such as WH-1000XM4, WF-1000XM3, WF-SP800N and WH-XB900N.

Has the emerging hybrid working model influenced audio demand and design due to the setup of next-gen home workplace?
While ‘hybrid’ is key to understanding the more flexible future of work, it encompasses many possible systems. Hybrid work tends to include more freedom around when to work as well as where to work. Hybrid working module in India has influenced audio demand with work from home and learn from home becoming the new normal; we are experiencing an exceptional demand for personal audio products. We expect this influence to continue organically through 2021-2022 also, due to increased awareness about the importance and utility of high-quality personal audio products in ‘Hybrid’ module.

Has the pandemic affected the pricing of consumer electronics due to manufacturing restrictions, import limitations, buying patterns dynamics, etc?
Yes, we have seen upward price revision across various product categories within consumer electronics. However, so far, we shall continue to provide the same price to our consumers.

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