Wireless audio has never been more relevant and devices making it all possible have never sounded better. Technology has matured to a point where there are far more players doing it now, as opposed to say a year or two ago. Prices are going down. Buyers have many options. The wireless headphone market is pegged to reach $156.5 Billion by 2031 globally, as per data released by Allied Market Research. Truly wireless earbuds are cruising on a whole another level.
“India might be a tad behind [in terms of launch and adoption as against to global markets] but in terms of metrics of overall usage and acceptance of new technology, we are right up there,” Sony India’s head of audio business Gyanendra Singh tells financialexpress.com.
Relatively cheap data packages and overall cost of ownership of mobile phones are fueling the growth of wireless audio category, he says, adding that “when something picks up the fancy of consumers and many companies start to put their energy behind that, we invariably end up seeing an astronomical growth in any category.”
Singh cites the enormous influx of truly wireless earbuds at various price points as a key indicator of the growing interest of the Indian consumer in adopting –this—new technology. Sony itself has an exhaustive TWS catalogue from the entry-level WF-C500 to flagship WF-1000 XM4.
Getting the right mix of features and pricing is a “complex equation”, he says, and that there are “multiple rights depending on what you are trying to do in the market.”
Basics are basics though. Singh reiterates that people are using these devices on a daily basis and therefore whatever product companies put out in the market, it should add value and make consumers feel happy about it.
“You can claim to have active noise cancellation (ANC) at economical prices but if it is there, then it has to serve a purpose,” he says, adding “that’s where it’s advantage for companies like Sony because the experience that someone gets [is great] and that instills confidence within the buyer and also reinforces that within the brand.”
But there is no denying that competition has become “tough” and you do need to put more thinking in terms of what your value proposition is, a little more in 2022.
Sony is launching the flagship WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones in India today. They come with a refreshed design which is lighter and sleeker while doubling down on microphones (8 versus 4 in the previous generation) for seemingly better noise cancelation and voice pickup while retaining their predecessor’s best-in-class 30-hour claimed battery life.
Singh says it’s not just a refresh for the sake of changing.
“It’s always tough to change something which has been working so good, but I think it is good that we continue to change and still strive to make it better.”
The WH-1000XM5 price in India is set at Rs 34,990 but Sony will sell it at an introductory price of Rs 26,990 starting from October 8.