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Harman's sound investment in China producing cutting-edge innovations | Updated: 2023-09-27 10:12
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Harman International Industries, a global leader in innovative audio products, will continue to invest and expand in China as it delivers exceptional experiences through cutting-edge products and solutions, a top executive said.

"China's role for Harman is far bigger than a market," said Michael Mauser, president and CEO of Harman International, during a trip to Shanghai in April. It was his first visit to China since taking the helm of the company in April 2020.

"We have a very diverse product portfolio, we have access to very strong talent, and we are going to continue to invest in engineering centers and manufacturing capabilities going forward," he said.

Harman International has long been at the forefront of designing, engineering and manufacturing innovative products and connectivity solutions for automakers, consumers and enterprises. The focus lies in the state-of-the-art technologies that enrich experiences across its business pillars, including automotive, lifestyle and digital transformation solutions.

"We're focused on creating smart experiences, (no matter whether) you are at home, in the car or on the go, and this is across all of our businesses," said Mauser, who has been with the company for 25 years.

In the automotive space, Harman International is spearheading transformation by capitalizing on its market leadership as the top player in both digital cockpits and car audio systems. While prioritizing cutting-edge in-car technologies to deliver consumer-focused experiences at an automotive grade, the company is also establishing strategic partnerships to foster automotive innovations.

Moreover, Harman International is making significant strides in delivering its range of Ready Solutions, which offer pre-validated solutions ready for seamless integration. These solutions cover various aspects, such as in-car safety, upgrades, vision and display. For instance, Ready Care is designed to enhance safety and alleviate driver stress, while Ready Vision informationalizes the windshield, empowering drivers by displaying real-time data.

"The automotive industry is becoming far more relevant and Harman is leading in that space," said Mauser. "We are well prepared… and one golden opportunity for carmakers is in the area of in-cabin experience."

The company showcased its Ready Solutions at the Shanghai auto show in April, drawing the attention of more than 150 international and local car manufacturers. The response from customers and original equipment manufacturers was very positive, with many considering the solutions to be truly "transformative in the automotive industry", according to Mauser.

In the lifestyle segment, Harman International has been consolidating its leadership with its iconic brands, such as JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity, Mark Levinson and Revel, and superior audio technology.

The company is leveraging its deep consumer insights to continuously raise the bar for unmatched sound excellence. Its business covers a wide range of consumer audio, such as True Wireless Stereo (TWS) technology, video game solutions and professional audio solutions.

A notable example is JBL, the fastest-growing headphone brand globally that recently achieved a remarkable milestone of selling 200 million headphones. The brand holds the top spot in the portable and party speaker category.

Mauser highlighted the company's unwavering commitment to sound quality. "Harman is indisputably known for its sound quality, across our various strong brands," Mauser said.

"When you look into true wireless headphones, active noise cancellation is a real differentiator. In gaming, it's about accuracy of sound, because for gamers, accuracy is very relevant and decisive."

Mauser also emphasized other factors influencing consumer decisions, citing a recent survey. Factors such as frictionless compatibility, connectivity, design and personalization are increasingly relevant in shaping consumer preferences.

Harman International recognizes the significance of design and strives to provide deliberate design solutions that cater to market demands.

"We are a world-class designer when it comes to audio, and design is becoming increasingly important as you can imagine," said Mauser, "When it comes to home audio, it's really about the design of speakers and they have to fit into your living room. When it comes to headphones, the ergonomics of in-ear buds has to be perfect."

In the area of digital transformation solutions, Harman International is focused on enabling advanced technologies to transform everyday lives. The company provides solutions that blend the physical and digital worlds in healthcare, communications and industrial industry verticals.

One key solution is DefenSight, an online platform that monitors cybersecurity risks and facilitates remediation. Another is an intelligent healthcare platform enabling companies to monitor patients outside clinical settings.

Harman International established its operations in China in 2005. It has built two manufacturing centers: one in Dandong, Liaoning province, and the other in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. It also has four R&D, engineering and design centers that enable the company to meet the needs of customers.

Mauser noted that "China is extremely important for us", as the company has set the goal of achieving long-term and sustainable growth in the country. Moreover, the company is leveraging China's robust capabilities and abundant talent pool for its business worldwide.

"The talent we find in China is extremely strong, and this is as important as the market of China …we have promoted a lot of our Chinese leadership, people and representatives into global roles," he said.

Looking ahead, Harman International has set an ambitious target to increase its sales to $15 billion by 2027, up from $10.2 billion in 2022.To accomplish this, the company has established strategic pillars to guide its endeavors.

Mauser emphasized the significance of people development as one of the key pillars, underlining the company's commitment to "winning through people". Harman International invests substantial time and resources into the development of its workforce worldwide, including in China. "I'm very proud that we have identified leaders in China with global responsibility, and we will continue to do so," Mauser said.

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