New Models, what's the downside to being transparent?

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.
Venerable Dawg
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New Models, what's the downside to being transparent?

Postby Venerable Dawg » Wed May 27, 2009 1:59 pm

In knifemaking, I appreciate Spyderco's attention to detail. I bet we all have. Little or no bladeplay for Byrd or Spyderco models. Innovation, . in the Spyderco line is outstanding. It's the contradiction between the product and the marketing of the product that becomes inescapable.

We have all seen customers experience anticipation for the new model arrival. And some go through the pain of losing an opportunity for knife they thought was still in production because they were late to the game. Question, why not just be transparent about roughly when/if new models are coming and/or if there are hold ups? For jujigatame's benefit, this is not tongue in cheek, but rather a straight question. You release new model information which can wet the appetites of many loyal spyderco customers and then hold back on basic information that would be useful for many Spyderco customers in making basic budgeting decisions. That's a marketing/corporate philosophy problem, not a production problem. If there is a production problem, you could adjust the arrival time frame without going into detail You make a quality product. And I hope that you can provide more information and be more transparent for new models in the future.



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markg
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Postby markg » Wed May 27, 2009 2:35 pm

As in most industries this is not really possible. Better to not tell exact dates then to have to go back and correct them later. Projects are never done on time.

Actually Spyderco is one of the best at telling you about new products. Take other companies for example. Benchmade gives info on new knives AFTER dealers are actually selling them!!! Then again, there is no disappointment with that method either. :)

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Postby catamount » Wed May 27, 2009 2:46 pm

If :spyder: gives a release date, it gets set in stone in the minds of some people; no matter how many disclaimers they make about it being an estimate only. These people then complain when it gets pushed back.

On the other hand, if they don't give release dates, they get complaints (Maybe from the same people?) that they are withholding information. It's really a no-win situation for :spyder: .

Although it is sometimes frustrating for me, both as an enthusiast and as a dealer, I fully understand why Sal made the decision he did.
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Sequimite wrote:I use knives. I collect experiences.

I'm an admirer of Spyderco's designs. Using them is like immersing yourself in music or studying a painting in a museum. I buy some "fine" art but my preference is for usable art.
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Postby spyderwa » Wed May 27, 2009 2:49 pm

Unfortunately the knife making business is very competitive. Spyderco has had many instances where their new knife models have been copied by other companies which rush a cheap copy to market bypassing costly quality-control and engineering. These copies hurt Spyderco by reducing the marketability of their new knife. Each time a new photo of a prototype is published it is assumed that others will take the design and crank out cheap copies, (usually from China), that are then sold at swap meets and gas stations. That is why Spyderco controls the photography of prototype knives that they bring to shows. Spyderco is one of the most innovative companies around and brings a lot to the knife industry table. You just have to watch out for those that try to grab stuff off the plate.

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The Deacon
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Postby The Deacon » Wed May 27, 2009 5:51 pm

I am firmly of the opinion that if what you are asking was possbile, Spyderco would already be doing it.

So the only real option is a return to past policy where NO photos and only the vaguest of hints regarding upcoming models was ever put out until the knife was shipping. Many arrived totally unannounced. The biggest "leak" was a German distributor, Acma-Reus, whose online catalog sometimes "jumped the gun" and posted pictures of a model not yet available. I fondly recall the C83 Persian being one of them. :D There were other times when Carlos' photos of his CC numbered knife would be the first indication of a new model's existence. Would you prefer a return to that system? I know I would not mind it one bit. ;)

On a slightly different, but related, note. Did I miss a memo? Was today No Tact Wednesday?
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Postby Doc Pyres » Wed May 27, 2009 7:53 pm

The Deacon wrote:
On a slightly different, but related, note. Did I miss a memo? Was today No Tact Wednesday?
Paul, you took the words right out of my mouth. Maybe it's a Moon phase or something. :)

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Postby jujigatame » Wed May 27, 2009 9:18 pm

Venerable Dawg wrote: For jujigatame's benefit, this is not tongue in cheek, but rather a straight question.
Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated. ;)

In regards to the points you bring up, I tend to agree with Tom's points that it can be a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't scenario.

If the company says "Knife XYZ is expected in the 3rd quarter of 2009," and that then changes to 4th quarter, then the beginning of 2010 but they don't release any details as to why this is happening.

What if you're really excited about Knife XYZ because it's your favorite steel and favorite type of blade grind, but the delays are because of a problem that forces a change to another steel, or another grind, or some other design element that's different from what you've built up all your anticipation for based on the original pre-production info you got?

You might be kinda miffed that the knife you were saving up for is not the same knife that's actually being produced, and you could reasonably ask "Why didn't you guys tells me you were changing these things on Knife XYZ? I could have bought something else I wanted in the meantime instead of waiting for a knife that's not being made." Are you going to be satisfied with the dates-but-no-details level of transparency then?

Point is it's never going to be right for everyone, or maybe even for a majority of the afi population. We all get by with some level of not receiving everything we would like to have.
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Postby Simple Man » Thu May 28, 2009 1:24 pm

The Deacon wrote:On a slightly different, but related, note. Did I miss a memo? Was today No Tact Wednesday?
Wondering that myself, but I couldn't figure out a way to ask tactfully.
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Postby pjmaxm » Thu May 28, 2009 2:44 pm

The Deacon wrote: On a slightly different, but related, note. Did I miss a memo? Was today No Tact Wednesday?
And I missed my chance....oh well.


It also seems that it is "Criticize Sal about Business Practices" month. People's excitement over new models should be tempered with some respect for the difficulties of manufacturing and bringing new products to market. Many times delays are no fault of Spyderco's or their makers; delays in manufacturing happen constantly, especially with products held to such a high level of quality and refinement. I buy Spyderco because of the quality and refinement of their products and prefer to wait for when the product is to Spyderco's standards, and not some artificial deadline.

Anything beyond that a product is released is Spyderco's business and theirs alone. It is really amazing to me sometimes how much people think they are entitled to know about Spyderco's business. I have an even better idea, the release date for all models this year is December 31, 2009. Anything before that is ahead of schedule and should be appreciated :D


Instead of complaining that we do not know exactly where a new product that we want is in development or shipping; we should focus on how great it is that Sal gives us any indications. We should appreciate the hints or suggestions as they are much more than many other companies give their customers.

"Sal's Casual Bombshell" thread should serve as an example of the great communication people already receive from Sal and Spyderco, actually this whole forum could be argued as the same.
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I continue to hope that Spyderco will be more transparent with general timeframes for

Postby Venerable Dawg » Thu May 28, 2009 3:39 pm

new products. I feel that if you are going to be mum on new products, then there is no expectation. If you choose to preview new products and get someone's interest, then it's helpful to provide a general, rough timeframe, not the exact timeframe that has been proffered on the thread.

Criticize Sal? Constructive criticism, I hope. Agree to disagree. You budget based on timing and price. Less information is less helpful for Spyderco customers making those decisions. I just think it's helpful for a company to work with its customer base in making consumer budget decisions.

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Postby catamount » Thu May 28, 2009 4:08 pm

Keeping things in perspective, most Spyderco consumers probably aren't even aware of these upcoming models; let alone planning and budgeting for them.

Us afis are a relatively small subset of :spyder: s retail customer base. I think Sal & Co. do a much better job of keeping us informed, and catering to us, than we have any reasonable right to expect.
Tom
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Sequimite wrote:I use knives. I collect experiences.

I'm an admirer of Spyderco's designs. Using them is like immersing yourself in music or studying a painting in a museum. I buy some "fine" art but my preference is for usable art.
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The Deacon
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Postby The Deacon » Thu May 28, 2009 4:58 pm

I'm not clear on what benefit rough estimates, subject to change, would really be.

FWIW, I doubt that Spyderco ever anticipates more than a 6 month gap between the time they allow photos and the time the knife is available, am sure they're hoping for even less of a gap. But there have been models which took much longer than anticipated to reach production. The Ocelot is probably the most glaring example of that, it was several years behind schedule. The original Szabofly was a close second.

Saying "late spring" when a knife is first shown in February, then pushing that back to "mid-summer" in April, and to "this fall" in June seems like it would annoy and confuse as many or more people than the current system does. In fact, Spyderco tried giving rough estimates for a while and it did annoy some folks when they needed to be revised due to a delay. Other folks got annoyed when a knife with an ETA of June suddenly showed up in April. That's why they stopped giving ETAs. Less information may be less helpful than more, but incorrect information is as bad or worse than none at all.

I'll admit I've thought more than once that they'd be better off not "letting the cat out of the bag" until the knife was ready to ship. "Buzz" can only last so long before folks find something else they're even more eager to own. But I don't presume to know enough about the knife business, or Spyderco's rather unique structure, to suggest alternative strategies.
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Postby yablanowitz » Thu May 28, 2009 6:05 pm

Maybe it's just from my years of debt-free living, but it seems to me that if a $300 or less purchase requires major budget planning, you have no business blowing that much on a knife. I'm quite sure that a $30 knife could get the job done. Millions of people get through their whole lives without ever spending even that much for a knife. These aren't cars we're talking about here. If a pocketknife is a major expense that you have to plan for months or years in advance, you need a new hobby. Collecting golf tees, maybe.

I think Sal and company give us more information on upcoming models than we deserve. I think he does it out of a kind heart and enthusiasm for his products. As a business practice, it really is a bad idea. As mentioned, it gives unscrupulous competitors a chance to rush a cheap knockoff to market ahead of the real deal, and any delays (which are very nearly inevitable) have us howling. From a pure business standpoint, it would be smarter to keep them utterly under wraps until released, or wait until they are ready, then announce them a month before they are released, and just let the relative handfull of people here whine about not knowing in advance.

Luckily for us, Sal wants our input. He wants to know what we think. He wants to know how he can make his products better for us. And to get that information, he tells us what he is working on. That, in my opinion, is the single greatest thing about Spyderco.

You want an ETA for an upcoming model? How about, "When it is ready, and not a minute sooner."
I don't believe in safe queens, only in pre-need replacements.

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Postby araneae » Thu May 28, 2009 9:49 pm

I think that just knowing a particular model should be coming out this year is enough for me. No matter what their new product policy is, Spyderco and other companies for that matter, will always have some segment of the market that is unhappy about their practices. You know the saying, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't." If budgeting is the issue, start saving when you hear about the model. Whenever it eventually comes out you're fine. The longer it takes to come out, the more time you have to save.

IMO we are privileged to get sneak peeks at upcoming models. Like Yab said, I appreciate the fact that Sal often reveals new projects here as a way of getting feedback from the knife knut crowd.

I'll just keeping waiting for those FRN Stretches to arrive and I'll be happy when they do. :)
So many knives, so few pockets... :)
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Postby Jay_Ev » Thu May 28, 2009 10:12 pm

yablanowitz wrote:Luckily for us, Sal wants our input. He wants to know what we think. He wants to know how he can make his products better for us. And to get that information, he tells us what he is working on. That, in my opinion, is the single greatest thing about Spyderco.
While I do agree with this statement that Sal wants our input, the tone of the forum seems to suggest otherwise. Anyone who dare post anything that doesn't "go with the flow" or is otherwise less than complimentary is ganged up on and attacked. How is he to obtain true feedback if the only input that is tolerated is positive?

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Postby jujigatame » Thu May 28, 2009 10:12 pm

Venerable Dawg wrote: I just think it's helpful for a company to work with its customer base in making consumer budget decisions.
I don't disagree with that, particularly in a time where lots of folks have a good deal less spare cash than before, if they've got any left at all. But to work off of yablanowitz's first point we're not talking about true big ticket items or things that one really needs to have. Do all of us need every single knife we own? Knives are important to all of us to a fair degree, we wouldn't be here typing about them otherwise, but there's no way I need 14 Spydercos. So while the overall sentiment of wanting info with which you can plan your spending is understandable it is perhaps the degree to which you repeatedly advocate for it that I have a harder time appreciating on what is likely a non-essential purchase.
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Postby yablanowitz » Thu May 28, 2009 10:26 pm

Jay_Ev wrote:While I do agree with this statement that Sal wants our input, the tone of the forum seems to suggest otherwise. Anyone who dare post anything that doesn't "go with the flow" or is otherwise less than complimentary is ganged up on and attacked. How is he to obtain true feedback if the only input that is tolerated is positive?
I seem to recall posting a few negative points about the knives in some of my posts. I don't recall being ganged up on. But the knives aren't really what the issue is in this thread, Spyderco's business plan is the subject of discussion. While we all have a right to our opinions, it is Sal's business to run as he sees fit. I just don't think telling the whole world via this forum every time there is a redesign, change in material, vendor problem, shipping issue, customs hitch, QC logjam or any of the dozens of other things that can delay a model's release (being transparent) is a very bright idea for any business. Most folks don't seem to have a clue about what it takes to get a product to market, and detailing the problems to anyone who has never done it makes you look incompetent. After all, everything is easy for the person who doesn't have to do it himself.
I don't believe in safe queens, only in pre-need replacements.

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Postby araneae » Fri May 29, 2009 7:53 am

Jay_Ev wrote:While I do agree with this statement that Sal wants our input, the tone of the forum seems to suggest otherwise. Anyone who dare post anything that doesn't "go with the flow" or is otherwise less than complimentary is ganged up on and attacked. How is he to obtain true feedback if the only input that is tolerated is positive?
I would suggest that this forum as a whole is the most civil I have seen on the web. I respectfully disagree with you on your view of the "gang attacks" on those with conflicting opinions.
So many knives, so few pockets... :)
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The "Spirit" of the design does not come through unless used. -Sal

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Postby Jay_Ev » Fri May 29, 2009 9:50 am

araneae wrote:I would suggest that this forum as a whole is the most civil I have seen on the web. I respectfully disagree with you on your view of the "gang attacks" on those with conflicting opinions.
Might I invite you to read the recent fake Poliwog thread?

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Postby yablanowitz » Fri May 29, 2009 11:18 am

Once again, that is not a thread about the product itself (or even a Spyderco product at all, for that matter), but a thread about business practices. To me, it appears to be someone attempting to justify the existence of design theft as a good thing, something which I do not agree with. The fact that he is trying to justify it through logical argument rather than admiting that it is quite clearly unethical and illegal makes me sad for the state of his soul.

Imagine for a moment what might have happened if that cheap knockoff had made it to market ahead of the fully developed and refined Spyderco model thanks to Sal "being transparent". Anyone who found the design interesting would have purchased that one instead, and either found it lacking or been satisfied with it. Either way, they would be less likely to spend fifteen times as much for the real thing. I'm sure that would be more harmful than helpful to Spyderco.
I don't believe in safe queens, only in pre-need replacements.


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