Jabra resellers get access to a wireless earbud headset that has appeal to consumer product users, but at a much higher quality that is certified for Skype for Business, and which can spare them a long series of support issues compared to the kind of products in this form factor that have been available until now.
Unified communications vendor Jabra has launched the Evolve 65t, a wireless earbud headset specifically designed for mobile professionals in the commercial space. It’s an evolution of high-end consumer market technology, and while it’s not the first earbud headset to hit the market, it is the first wireless one. The Evolve 65t also meets UC commercial engineering specifications, as it has been certified by Microsoft for Skype for Business.
“Evolve 65t is the first true wireless earbud that is UC-certified,” said Adam Robertson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Jabra. “It’s not the first in-ear business product. That was our Evolve 75e, which we introduced a year ago. What we are doing now is pushing the business earbud into a true wireless form factor.”
The Evolve 65t is inspired by consumer market products, but Robertson stressed that it’s a massive step up in terms of quality.
“In the retail space, this is overwhelmingly the most preferred form factor, which is massively in demand,” Robertson said. “People want something similar as a personal statement when they are at work. But what has been lacking in this space in the commercial market is in-ear products that don’t degrade. The consumer products are not built for the office environment. They are not built for conference calls. You just need one person on a 15 person conference call with Apple earbuds and the call quality is bad for everyone. These products persist in the commercial space though, because some people hate on-ear products.”
It has only been in the last year that the technology has existed to overcome these issues.
“We had nothing to service these users until the last year,” Robertson said. “We couldn’t make the same quality as an over-ear product with a long boom. Only in the last year has the technology allowed us to get close to the quality that is necessary for an Evolve product.”
The quality is not at the same level as headsets with booms, Robertson acknowledged – but it’s close.
“People who know sound know it is physical,” he said. “When you have a large boom in front of your mouth, that’s optimal. It lets us do more powerful tricks when it comes to noise cancellation. When it comes to the basic audio quality, this is very similar. But when it comes to the ability to remove noise, that’s where you notice a difference. It’s in that ability to manage the noise.”
That being said, Robertson said that the quality is still miles above consumer grade.
“It’s massively different from that,” he said. “We worked hard to improve the quality to be able to meet the Skype certification standards.”
In addition to that critical Skype for Business certification, the Evolve 65t features 4-microphone technology for superior wireless sound. The battery will last for up to 15 hours, and there is a fast-charge feature to power 1.5 hours of additional use on just a 15-minute charge. You can also connect to two devices simultaneously.
At a $USD 329 list, there is a price premium for the form factor.
“Some people are more concerned about appearance, or a more discrete look, and headphones become a fashion statement for some people,” Robertson said. “To get that with the necessary audio quality and performance makes them willing to pay a premium. We see the most deployment among junior to mid level executives. There’s definitely an age dynamic, as well as a focus on mobile-centric users. Historically the Evolve series has been desk-centric, but with the 75e and now the 65t, it’s more mobile. The users still have a desk, but use the device much of the time on the move, and we see companies willing to invest in that.”
Robertson said that the earbud phones aren’t a good fit for contact centre environments.
“Contact centres are tough because noise cancellation is important in that environment,” he indicated. “In those environments, customer confidentiality is also critical. You can’t have other people hearing customer calls. So many of the contact centres have a very hard line with respect to the more traditional boom and headset devices.”
In environments where these are suitable, Robertson said that they are a fairly easy sell for partners, despite the cost.
“For the user, the fact that they can finally get headphones they would want to use outside the office through their corporate plans is important,” he stated. “Partners finally have access to in-ear products that meet UC certification standards – something that has not been easy to make. Partners can offer earbud phones, in a true wireless form factor, that will end complaints about call performance and compatibility. They can deploy them and not have to worry about persistent support incidents afterwards. That just kills profitability.”