22 Mar 2015

China v. Japan

Up to now, the Japanese "big boys" such as Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu have pretty well dominated the amateur radio market, but the Chinese are on the march. Only last month I bought a 30W pep all mode rig for 10m: this was made in China. See also yesterday's post about 40m Pixie kits at ridiculously low prices.

Be in no doubt: within a few years we will see the amateur radio market flooded with quality products made in China with low prices. At this point, the traditional Japanese brands will die out or be made in China. By the next solar minimum in around 4-5 years time the dynamics of the commercial amateur radio market will be very different. The writing is already on the wall.

Up to now most Chinese amateur products have lacked the finesse of Japanese products but this is rapidly changing. We are fast approaching the time when Chinese made amateur products will be every bit as good as Japanese products, but at very much lower prices.

In the end competition is healthy but this is likely to result in the death nell for all manufacturers not in China. We could well see the death of Ten Tec and Elecraft unless they design in the USA and make in China. The volumes of loyal customers who would be willing to pay USA manufacturing prices would be far too low, sadly.

Of course, we have already seen this with most consumer products and white goods. In the end, China will become too expensive and we will look for slave labour rates elsewhere. Sadly we live in a very odd world. This cannot go on for ever, but we are all complicit. At the moment we are exporting most of our manufacture to China.

Life was, in a way, so much easier when things were made to last, they were made in the UK, we saved up to buy things we really needed, when things were altogether less consumption driven.


Dick said...

I think you will see amateurs holding on to whatever they now have for a longer period of time. Less instant gratification. I also think you will see more recycling of equipment. In other words, buying used. There may be something of an upgrade fatigue setting in, despite availability of cheap but fairly good variety of all consumer products. How many more "revolutionary" Smart Phones can be sold. Sooner or later consumers will recognize themselves for the suckers they have become.

Roger G3XBM said...

With rock bottom Chinese product prices I think the amateur radio market is firmly in the sights of the Chinese.

Todd Dugdale said...

The amateur radio market is small. What China has done is made *commercial* radios that can also be used for amateur purposes.

In the end, this is a hobby. There are realistic limits to how much most people will spend on any hobby. And I'm baffled as to why I would need a radio that will last 50 or 60 years. Who knows what the hobby will be like in even ten years?

Ham radio is archaic, retro technology by today's standards. That doesn't mean that it can't be fun or useful. No matter how fancy or durable a horse-drawn cart may be, with hydraulics and comfy seats, it's not the future.