Plantronics Suffers as Motorola Leads Booming Bluetooth Headset Market (MOT, PLT)

Includes: GOOG, PLT
by: William Trent, CFA

Plantronics (NYSE:PLT) and GN Store Nord have long dominated the market for office and call center headsets. However, as the market has opened up to consumers due to increasing use of cell phones, plus the addition of laws that prohibit handheld phones while driving, PLT has struggled.

To begin with, margins are significantly lower than in the office and call center market. This, in turn, is due to greater competition in the consumer marketplace. And while Plantronics continues to enjoy strong brand presence in its core market, established competitors in the mobile handset business have been able to take the lead for accessories like headsets as well. A new survey lays out the details:

Global sales of wireless Bluetooth headsets for mobile phones rose 153 percent to 33 million units in 2005, representing a wholesale value of $1 billion, and are expected to grow 70 percent in 2006, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Motorola (MOT), the world’s second biggest mobile phone maker, controlled 28.2 percent of the Bluetooth headset market, according to market research group Strategy Analytics.

Denmark’s GN Store Nord’s Jabra unit was second with 16.3 percent and Plantronics third with 12.3 percent market share.

Popularity of the devices was fuelled by falling prices for Bluetooth headsets as well as traffic laws in many countries which require hands-free calling while driving.

MOT-PLT 1-yr comparison chart:

MOT-PLT 1-yr comparison chart