By Patrick Avenell
Postmodern French brand Parrot today officially launched its new Zik wireless headphones in Sydney. In addition to some of the novel features of this Parisian audio accessory, Parrot ANZ MD Chris Roberts also discussed how the company was going and the effect of parallel importing on Parrot’s business.
The new Zik headphones operate wirelessly over Bluetooth and are compatible with “all brands of smartphones and tablets” currently on the market. In addition to audio playback, the Zik offers full handsfree functionality for receiving calls.
One of the best features of the Zik is its touch control panel, located on the obverse of the right cushion. Users can tap this panel once to receive a call and twice to reject a call. When listening to music, vertical swipes adjust the volume while horizontal swipes change the track being played (either forward or backwards).
The Zik has “Parrot Patented” active noise reduction to target and eliminate unwanted noise, while a “Bone Conduction Sensor” will analyse jaw movements to recognise the difference in sounds between the user speaking and ambient noise, and then it will filter out the latter. The Zik has an advertised battery life of between 18 and 24 hours, depending on how it is being used.
Further features of the Zik include Near Field Communication (NFC) for connectivity with compatible devices and apps for iOS and Android to control the acoustics of the headphones.
The Parrot Zik is available in August from consumer electronics retailers, Apple Online and design and concept stores. The RRP is $499.
Current.com.au asked Parrot ANZ boss Chris Roberts how the Australian office was performing. Roberts said developing channels was central to Parrot’s long term viability.
“It’s been two years since we established an office here with a specific focus on Australia and New Zealand, and it’s going okay,” Roberts said. “We’re very focused on developing the channels and this is a very important product for us, moving us further into the accessories category.
“The company is built upon automotive handsfree — that’s for the aftermarket and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) — and then, obviously, there’s the AR.Drone, which has facilitated a good a business for us, and a different business: it takes us into a lot of different categories; and then there’s the Design By range, that again is a different area of products — so we have a good multichannel, developing business.”
The aforementioned RRP is AUD $108 more than the US suggested sell price of $399. Roberts attributed this price discrepancy to tax differences (the US price does not include sales taxes that vary from state to state, while the Australian price includes the 10 per cent GST), and supply chain costs, which Roberts says includes the costs associated with landing products in Australia and distributing them around the country.
In addition to the $100 price difference acting as an incentive for consumers to purchase online, Roberts also confirmed that imported Zik headphones would be covered by the local office’s warranty.
“Parrot is a global company and we’re a global brand, so we are looking after consumers,” he said.
Small footprint, high value products with price discrepancies and global warranties have traditionally been the lifeblood of grey importers. We asked Roberts if was aware of an existing parallel channel for Parrot products.
“There is always a grey market, especially in consumer electronics, throughout the world, this is part of life,” he replied.
To combat this grey market, Roberts said Parrot was investing in above and below the line support for the Parrot Zik, as well as after sales service.
"We are investing significantly on the roll-out of the product with major retailers throughout the country, so there is going to be quite a program, both in-store and above the line," Roberts said. "This is a product we spent three developing, we've invested significantly on the development, so now in terms of the execution, yes, we always support the retailers with a significant commitment as well.
The new Parrot Zik Bluetooth headphones will be released in August.