VTech

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For the education institution, see Virginia Tech.
Not to be confused with VTEC.
VTech Holdings Ltd
Type Public company
Traded as HKSE: 0303
Industry Electronics industry
Founded 1976
Headquarters Hong Kong
Area served Worldwide
Products

Residential phones

Educational toys

Electronic manufacturing services

Small to medium sized business phones

Hotel phones

Cordless headsets

Integrated access device

Baby monitor
Revenue US$1,898.9 million (FY2014)
Net income US$203.3 million (FY2014)
Employees Around 30,000
Website www.vtech.com

VTech (Simplified Chinese: 伟易达 Wěi yì dá) (Traditional Chinese: 偉易達 Wěi yì dá) (HKSE: 0303) is a leading global supplier of electronic learning products from infancy to preschool and the world's largest manufacturer of cordless phones.[1][2][3] It is also one of the top 50 electronic manufacturing services providers globally.[4]

Name and listing[edit]

The company was originally named "Video Technology Limited" in reference to the company's first product, a home video game console.[5] In 1991, it was renamed "VTech Holdings Limited" to reflect a wider portfolio of products.[6]

The company first listed in Hong Kong in June 1986 under the name "Video Technology International (Holdings) Limited". It was privatised and delisted from The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited in 1990.

VTech obtained a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1991. In 1992, the company relisted on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, establishing a dual primary listing with London. In 1993, the company established its American depositary receipt programme.

VTech delisted voluntarily from the London Stock Exchange on 7 October 2008.[7] It also terminated its American Depositary Receipt programme with effect from 21 January 2011.

History[edit]

VTech's office and factory were located in Mok Cheong Street, Tokwawan in 1976

VTech was founded in Hong Kong in October 1976 by two local entrepreneurs, Allan Wong[8][9] and Stephen Leung.[6] When the first single-chip microprocessor "Intel 4004" became available in the early 1970s, the company saw the potential it offered for portable consumer electronics products. Wong & Leung set up a small factory in To Kwa Wan, with a US$40,000 investment and a staff of 40 people. In the first year, turnover was less than US$1 million.[6]

VTech initially focused on developing video games. In 1977, the company created its first home TV game console, a version of Pong. Since only consumers in North America and Europe could afford such items, the company targeted primarily these markets.

The United Kingdom was chosen as the first market for Pong, as Hong Kong and the UK used the same standard for television systems. In 1978, the founders introduced LED games they had developed to buyers from RadioShack in the US, which were sold under the RadioShack brand.[6]

VTech then began to build its own brand. VTech unveiled its first electronic learning product (ELP) called "Lesson One" at the New York Toy Fair in February 1980.[6] It taught children basic spelling and maths. An exclusive version under the name "Computron" was offered to Sears, with the product being prominently advertised by Sears in its catalogue which was a popular shopping guide.[10][11]

Laser computer

VTech then branched out into personal computers, including a series of IBM compatible PCs beginning in 1983 and Apple II compatible computers beginning in 1985, including a model called Laser 128. VTech exited the personal computer market in 1997 due to keen competition.[12]

In 1985, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated the frequency band 900MHz to ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) devices. Taking advantage of this, VTech started developing a cordless telephone using the 900 MHz band and in 1991 introduced the world's first fully digital 900 MHz cordless telephone.[13][14]

In 2000, to expand its cordless phone business, VTech acquired the consumer telephone business of Lucent Technologies. The acquisition also gave VTech the exclusive right for 10 years to use the AT&T brand in conjunction with the manufacture and sale of wireline telephones and accessories in the United States and Canada.[15] Although the acquisition increased sales of VTech's telecommunication products by 50%, it led to operating losses and write-offs. The company issued a profit warning in March 2001 and launched a broad restructuring plan.[16] By the financial year 2002, the company had turned around the business and returned to profitability.[17]

Today, VTech's core businesses remain cordless telephones and electronic learning products. Its contract manufacturing services, which manufactures a range of electronic products on behalf of medium sized companies, has also become a major source of revenue. The company has diversified geographically, selling to North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.[18]

Core businesses[edit]

Lesson One half-page ad in Sears' 1981 Christmas Book

Electronic learning products (ELPs)[edit]

VTech was among the pioneers of the ELP industry, beginning in 1980 with a unit designed to teach children basic spelling and mathematics.[19]

Today VTech is a leading global supplier of ELPs from infancy to preschool,[1][2][3] making both individual standalone products and platform products that combine a variety of consoles with different software.[8]

Its V.Smile TV Learning System, which was launched in 2004, established what the company calls platform products as an important category within its ELPs.[20] Latest additions to the platform product range are InnoTab Max[21][22] and Kidizoom Smart Watch.[23]

In recent years, VTech has branched out beyond the learning aisle with preschool vehicle range Switch and Go Dinos,[24] as well as infant-toddler vehicles and playsets in the Go! Go! Smart series.[25]

The world's first fully digital 900MHz cordless phone

Telecommunication (TEL) products[edit]

VTech introduced the world's first 900 MHz and 5.8 GHz cordless phones in 1991 and 2002 respectively. According to MZA Ltd,[26] the company is the world's largest manufacturer of cordless telephones.

In North America, VTech is the largest player in the industry, according to MarketWise Consumer Insights LLC,[27] selling both AT&T and VTech branded phones and accessories. Outside North America, VTech mainly supplies products to fixed-line telephone operators, brand names and distributors on an original design manufacturing (ODM) basis.

VTech launched its first commercial phone, targeting small to medium sized businesses in 2009.[28] The company further expanded its product portfolio in 2010 by entering into the hospitality market.[29]

Other telecommunication products VTech manufactures includes cordless headsets, integrated access devices, baby monitors, etc.

Contract manufacturing services (CMS)[edit]

VTech started manufacturing products for other brand names on an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) basis in the 1980s and CMS became one of the company's core businesses in the early 2000s.[30]

VTech has been identified as one of the world's top 50 electronics manufacturing services providers,[4] providing electronics manufacturing services for medium sized companies. VTech's CMS has focused on four main product categories: professional audio equipment, switching mode power supplies, wireless products and solid-state lighting.[30]

In November 2011, manufacturing capacity of VTech's CMS was increased by 40% and the manufacturing facility was enhanced to enable it to manufacture products with stringent safety and quality requirements, including those requiring US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.[31] VTech's CMS has expanded into new product categories in recent years, including medical and health care products, and testing and measurement equipment.

Criticisms[edit]

A June 2012 report from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights[32] said the working conditions in the VTech factories in China failed to meet the legal standards and could be described as sweatshops. VTech strongly rejected the allegations and issued a statement on 22 June 2012 reiterating that it is a responsible and caring employer which abides by the legal requirements relating to employment in all jurisdictions where it operates.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Hong Kong's 40 Richest". Forbes. 5 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "VTech joins fray with tablets for children". South China Morning Post. 12 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Company Research - VTech Holdings". Maybank Kim Eng. 24 March 2014. p. 7. 
  4. ^ a b "The MMI Top 50 for 2013". Manufacturing Market Insider. 
  5. ^ "Brand & Mission". VTech. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "History". VTech. 
  7. ^ "Company announcement – Cancellation of Listing". Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 
  8. ^ a b "Silicon's Search For Youth". Forbes. 31 January 2011. p. 1. 
  9. ^ "Transcript: Allan Wong, Chairman and Group CEO, VTech". CNN. 18 October 2006. 
  10. ^ "Silicon's Search For Youth". Forbes. 31 January 2011. p. 2. 
  11. ^ "Kids' computers through the ages". Computerworld UK. 18 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "VTech Holdings Ltd. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on VTech Holdings Ltd.". Reference for Business. 
  13. ^ "New Cordless Phones Offer Privacy, Remarkable Clarity". Chicago Tribune. 4 June 1993. 
  14. ^ Michael Rose (15 June 1992). "VTECH phone is no bump analog; this baby's digital.". Business Journal-Portland. 
  15. ^ "VTech buys Lucent's consumer phone business for $113m". ElectronicsWeekly.com. 19 January 2000. 
  16. ^ "VTech Issues Profit Warning, Plans to Restructure Business". Wall Street Journal Online. 
  17. ^ "VTech reverses losses to post $11.2m profit". Reuters. 27 June 2002. 
  18. ^ "Annual Report 2012". VTech. pp. 16–19. 
  19. ^ "The VTech phenomenon". Forbes. 19 October 1998. 
  20. ^ "V.Smile TV Learning System for kids". Gizmag. 
  21. ^ "VTech Welcomes 4th Generation Children’s Learning Tablets to Award-Winning InnoTab Family, Including First to Feature Android Learning Content". VTech. 5 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "VTech brings teacher-endorsed Android games to its InnoTab Max tablet for kids". Gizmag. 8 June 2014. 
  23. ^ "There Is Now a 'Smartwatch' for Kids". Mashable. 18 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "VTech Introduces Latest Toy Innovations, Branches Out with New Switch & Go Dinos". VTech. 13 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "VTech Goes Wild with Expansion of Award-Winning Go! Go! Smart Wheels Line". VTech. 18 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "Annual Report 2014". VTech. p. 5. 
  27. ^ "Annual Report 2014". VTech. p. 4. 
  28. ^ "Interim Report 2009/2010". VTech. p. 1. 
  29. ^ "VTech Enters Hospitality Market, Bringing 25 Years of Telephony Experience". VTech. 21 June 2010. 
  30. ^ a b "Financial Reports". VTech. 
  31. ^ "Annual Report 2012". VTech. p. 3. 
  32. ^ "Reports". Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. 20 June 2012. 
  33. ^ "Media Statement". VTech. 22 June 2012. 

External links[edit]