Cheap Alternatives Take Toll On PocketWizard, Major Layoffs Follow Poor Sales

Current Events February 20th 2014 10:06 AM 55 Comments

Ask almost anyone in the photography industry what trigger system they use and many will answer with PocketWizard (PW), and those who don’t would likely admit that they would use PW if they could afford it. Unfortunately, even with this kind of reputation, things are not as well as it would seem at the company many consider to be the “standard” for off-camera triggering.

pocketwizard-plus-x-review

According to a report over at Lighting Rumors, there have been major layoffs at PocketWizard following what was described as “poor sales.” No official numbers have been released, but rumors are that more than 20 individuals have been let go. That may not seem like much, but in a company that employs only 50 or so people, this is a significant number of employees, roughly 40%.

LPA Design, the company behind the PocketWizard brand,  CEO Tim Neiley said in an email to distributors,“LPA has reduced staff at the company as well, and will be focusing its resources primarily on engineering development.”

All of this comes as the company finds itself locked in a battle over the trigger market with cheap off market triggers from companies such as Yongnuo. In the past, the reliability of PocketWizards had been one of its key trump cards over these cheap off market brands, but recently the tides have shifted and many of these cheap triggers are very reliable.

pocketwizard_plusx

Last year’s announcement of the PocketWizard PlusX was seen by many as PocketWizard’s response to the threat of these cheap triggers. But, sadly for PocketWizard, many people considered the Plus X to be too simple and overpriced for the features that were offered. A pair of Yongnuo triggers, for example, for the same price as the PlusX offer many more features and very good reliability.

[REWIND: Yongnuo Announces New IR assist Accessory]

pocket-wizard-plus-x

Currently, there have been no effects on how the company is doing business in the US. In fact, PocketWizard is still registered for a booth at WPPI in Las Vegas in two weeks. A spokesperson for the MAC group, the US Distributor for PocketWizard, said in a statement to Lighting Rumors:

We, MAC Group, handle sales, customer service and repairs of PocketWizard in USA and we have no reason to believe there will be any change in these areas we manage. We have been informed by the manufacturer, LPA, that they have made recent staff reductions in response to shifting worldwide production requirements, and so they can focus their resources on new product development.

Does it surprise you to hear that the brand that most professional photographers rave about is in such hot water? Do you have any thoughts on what PocketWizard can do to turn things around? Share your thoughts below to join the discussion.

[via Lighting Rumors]
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Anthony Thurston

About

Anthony Thurston is a portrait and sports photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area as well as a senior writer here at SLR Lounge. You can check out some of his work on his Website. You may also connect with him via Email, Google Plus, or Facebook.

55 Comments

  1. David Liang

    It was bound to happen that their market presence be eroded by products that are as functional, acceptably reliable, but at fraction of the costs.

    I’m not sure what they can do specifically to regain market share, but basic market principles apply. If you want to sell a product, it needs to be new(as in new functions/applications, cheaper or better. Ideally to maximize sales the product would have a combination of those attributes.

    If PW comes out with a product with features others don’t have, useful features, then they have a leg. If they manage to sell current products much cheaper, than have a leg based on their brand recognition alone. As far as better goes I’m not sure how much better a product can get in the transmitter space, to justify the price point PW sells their products at. I suppose if it was better and cheaper then they would have a very compelling product.

    • Anthony Thurston

      I agree with you here, I don’t see much more in the way of innovation that they could bring to the table to justify their insane premium over the budget brands. Their range is already the best, and is way more than 99% of photographers need. Lowering the price seems to be the only option in my mind, but for some reason I don’t see them doing that.

    • David Liang

      Hey Anthony,

      Yeah I don’t see them lowering the price either. Although I’m surprised how small their infrastructure is, considering their price it seems they’re making quite a margin on the products.

      I wonder if they would consider what Bowens and Samyang do, manufacture the same products for other labels. PW could do as Bowens and sell the newest products through their line, and older products private labelled with aother brands sold at a discount. It’s almost like expanding their sales and product lines, but not having to deal with distribution or marketing because the other brands do that.

      It may lower their margins but the volume could make up the difference from unit sales and lowered bulk manufacturing costs.

    • BrianH

      I sold my PW’s for a cheaper option. They where not stable in fluctuating temps and high humidity situations. I bought 7 of the replacement for 2 of the PW, The replacement is more stable but less options but totally functional to 100 yards or better. The price is insane

    • BillGates

      Many reviewers are call ATG, Photttix and Youngnuo has cheap triggers.

      Why not state the fact that Pocket Wizard was & still ripping us off with their prices for years?

      And when LPA (Pocket Wizard) closed the door on support after the sales, photographers got mad.

      Now, LPA has fired many of their employees.
      Well, to the staff that were layoffs are just the same as being fired when you are over 45 years old.

  2. Charles Putnam

    I just picked up the Phottix Stratto TTL for Nikon flash triggers. At $130-150 for both transmitter and receiver, that includes TTL and AutoFP support, Pocket Wizard, nor Radio Poppers, can come close.

    • Cris

      Yongnuo’s YN622n’s are even cheaper at about $70 a pair on ebay new and work great. I picked up a YN-622n-TX controller and absolutely love it. Full control for $60. PW isn’t going to be able to compete with that.

    • Matthew Saville

      Hey Charles, we’ve been very curious about the Phottix trigger systems here at SLR Lounge actually, and I have one question for you. Can the Stratto TTL system for Nikon / Canon offer multiple groups? Meaning, can you adjust the power of different flashes separately?

      Thanks for your feedback!
      =Matt=

    • Lanye Bush

      I actually just returned my Phottix Stratos II set on Tuesday. I wanted Pocketwizard when I purchased them in January, but I just didn’t think I could afford it. When the receiver was mounted on my SB-700 it was causing the speedlight to ‘freeze.’ I tested the flash attached to the Phottix mounted on a light stand, in my hand and in the hot shoe of my camera. When the SB-700 was attached to the receiver it would ‘freeze’ and none of the buttons would function. I would have to open the battery compartment door to reset it. When in the hot shoe of my D600 the speed light functioned perfectly fine, no ‘freezing’ issues.

      I replaced my Phottix set with Pocketwizard Plus IIIs. I didn’t think I could afford them when I bought the Phottix set, but I DEFINITELY cannot afford to have my speedlights freezing during a wedding or event.

    • Fred

      Matthew,

      I’m not sure about the Phottix Strato TTL, but I do know that the Phottix Odin TTL does allow for three groups and lets you control either manual flash exposure from the transmitter or use a TTL ratio between 2 groups and manual for the third group. The Odin is a bit pricier though – definitely more affordable than the equivalent Pocket Wizard though, and I’ve yet to have a misfire from them.

    • Charles Putnam

      @Matthew Saville – the Strato TTL doesn’t support groups (Phottix Odin does). This is my first venture into wireless flash transmitters. I only have one flash (a SB 800 that I’ve had forever), the Strato TTL made sense.

    • Matthew Saville

      Okay, well I’m really happy with my Radiopopper JRX system, although HSS would be useful I suppose. (Couldn’t care less about TTL, at least not for my off-camera flashes…)

      =Matt=

  3. Tom Bicknell

    It’s good that they are recognizing an issue with their market share and making steps to correct it. There are just so many choices on the market there was no way PW was going to keep churning at the same rate as years ago. I never liked big ugly transmitters on top of my camera (they are almost prohibitive for anyone who carries their camera on a sling system) so I chose Radio Popper Nanos as my basic trigger of choice. There is so much competition out there and PW did nothing to address it other than release a $100 transceiver that, while nice, had even MORE competition than their other products at 70% the cost and 3 times the features.

    I’m excited because maybe this means PW will turn out something new and wonderful.

  4. James

    I think the MiniTT line was their “jumping the shark” moment. I bought into them because PW was the trigger to have when I was getting started a few years ago. I got a MiniTT set and they barely worked at first and now I’m lucky if they trigger at all. I replaced them with Yongnuo 602’s and now 622’s and couldn’t be happier. Many sponsored photographers love the MiniTT, but I’ve run into a lot of regular photogs that don’t have kind words to describe them. (referring to the Canon edition)

  5. Drew Pluta

    Well it’s nice to see consequences for confusingly bad business strategy. I hope it has the proper outcome. A stripped down, compact trigger pair that get’s within sight of $100 to answer the Yongnuo’s. Let the high end be truly impressive and innovative like only they have the ability to deliver. They could own us as consumers from cradle to grave if they offered a full product line that reflected our needs and budgets.

  6. Bryan Decker

    I used to lust after Pocket Wizards but could never justify the price for my needs. I tried cheap ebay triggers with limited success. Then I bought the Yongnuo transmitters and have stopped even considering Pocket Wizards. They are easy to use, worked reliably and are in my opinion priced correctly.

    PW cannot stay in the space they are in right now with competitors like Yongnuo. Perhaps they will be able to cut their prices down with the changes at the company, or try to go “premium” and be satisfied with smaller sales figures. As David noted, I don’t know what feature set they could improve on to justify higher prices.

    Now I just wait for them to put the transmitter in my prosumer camera body.

  7. Stan Rogers

    They’re in a tough space. Their “dumb” triggers aren’t better or more rugged *enough* to justify the brand tax. They’ve lost half of the Mini/Flex market to Canon’s own system (at the cost-no-object pro level, at least). Just about every major studio system now has its own built-in (or add-on) radio system *with remote settings you can get to from camera or a tethered workstation*. Elinchrom has it in a two-light kit that costs about the same as a single 600EX or SB910. They’ve never managed to make their Nikon TTL system reliable enough, and since the Nikon settings normally happen on the commander flash (rather than in the camera), you didn’t get enough control. Even Yongnuo figured that part out, adding the 622N-TX to the line.

    There’s room in the industry for the sort of thing PocketWizard was once known for: can’t-kill-it-with-a-bazooka ruggedness, solid reliability and ridiculous range. And people will pay a premium for it. But that doesn’t relieve them of the responsibility to innovate. It’s not just that they’re expensive (they’re never going to win out over the $20 trigger sets at that end of the market), but that they’ve fallen behind the market. Far behind. And the momentum of brand recognition has finally given out.

    • Anthony Thurston

      +1000, totally agree with you here.

    • David Liang

      You know your points just gave me an interesting idea.

      Perhaps one path to survival for PW is to accept they’ve lost relevance in the pure trigger market. However, they have brand recognition and strong current user base. They could utilize that and see if they can work with a Broncolor, Elincrom, Profoto, Bowens, and have their receivers built into new strobes from those guys.

      From a user perspective it’d be cool to buy a strobe and only need a transceiver for the camera. No more triggers dangling by wire etc. Batteries wouldn’t be an issue as the monobloc or pack would power the receivers. Value to the user would be a more streamlined approach and guaranteed compatibility.

      PW could stay relevant by mass integration of their tech into strobe manufacturers. 1 strobe sale = 1 sale for pw.

      The tricky part would be how much they’re willing to lower their price point to strobe manufacturers, and how welcoming are those manufacturers to the idea.

  8. Diane

    In addition, the new flashes with radio ability built in are another nail in their coffin. That’s the product they should have been developing all along. I think in 2 years the idea of triggers will be gone totally. They will all be in the flash itself, and only needed for bigger lights.

  9. Gord Klimchuk

    We see this in the auto industry. New innovations are developed by automakers like Mercedes and before long we see the same features offered in the lower priced cars coming out of Japan and Korea. Spending the R&D money to innovate an electronic product can only be recouped by it’s market price. But new innovations in the electronic industry have a short life span as it is easy to duplicate. Patents are expensive to enforce and take years to litigate – Apple and Samsung are still in courts over products that neither still produces.

    Unfortunately for PW the trend is to lower priced products that are now as reliable. And they are also seeing lighting manufacturers building transmitters and receivers in their products. There may be room to be more competitive in their pricing (dependent on their cost to produce) but then this would leave no room for money to be spent on R&D. But is there any further innovation being requested by photographers? Is the current product line fulfilling all of the photographers’ needs? Or will further development only benefit a very small market?

    It seems that PW’s options to compete would be to reduce their product cost, curtail R&D, and thus lower their pricing. Also to be more aggressive in their marketing to assert themselves as the product for professionals and enthusiasts alike. I think the future is going to be rough for PW, seeing reduced market share much like automakers saw once their foreign competition produce a reliable product at a lower price.

  10. Matthew Saville

    My take… The global scale free market is negatively affecting the lives of both 1st-world hard-working entrepreneurs and their families, almost as much as it is affecting the lives of under-paid workers in poor countries with infinite access to mass production and cheap labor. It’s a spiral, a catch-22, fed by consumerism and I don’t know if there is an end in sight…

    In other words our society, or at least our global economy, is on a steam train headed for a cliff at 80 MPH, and unless Marty and Doc can figure out time travel real quick, we’re screwed.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, I have faith that innovations will somehow find ways to make our lives better, all across the world. We just need to figure out how to conserve our resources, and find ways to feed our consumerist hungers without cannibalizing our world economy. It’s possible, I bet, but I’m just not the one with the solution…

    =Matt=

    • Don

      Just curious…have you ever been to these “poor countries” and talked with these “under-paid” workers?

    • David Liang

      Under-paid by who’s standards?

      FYI, minimum wage in the states is between $2 and $8. Here in Ontario we’re trying to pass legislation to increase our minimum wage from $10 to $14. By that comparison I could say the US minimum wage workers are under-paid as well.

      Fact of the matter is the wages are what they are because someone is willing to work for that wage. The prices for items are what they are because someone is willing to pay that price. This is a fundamental principle of capitalism.

      You can’t have it both ways and expect the advantages of capitalism while expecting social justice at the same time.

      We should absolutely strive for a balance of the two, but to realistically expect there be no compromise, that there would be no collateral damage, is foolish.

    • wjp

      Every single product faces downward pressure on price when exposed to international competition. Products are more economical to produce in countries with lower wages, but they are also impacted by the environmental regulations in other countries. PocketWizards are made in the USA where they have to comply with regulations and taxes that in many cases are more restrictive than those found in China; specifically environmental regulations.

      Companies that wish to continue being competitive in a global market space must do one of three things: Lower Prices, Innovate, or Downsize. Countries that wish their industries to remain competitive in a global market must find ways to make manufacturing financially competitive while honoring their prior commitments to protecting the environment. This usually involves either lowering tax rates, introducing temporary tax incentives, reducing regulations, or using tariffs on foreign imports.

      It is sad for the employees and others with a financial interest in PocketWizard, but this is a natural occurrence in the global market.

    • Matthew Saville

      @ Don – No, but I would really, really like to. I know full well that I have very little clue about how the rest of the world actually lives and works, and I’m very interested in exploring.

      @ David – I understand what you’re saying, but the problem is that the more people there are, the more people will compete by being willing to work for less. And it is a downward spiral, it seems. I’m not a huge fan of any one economic or political system, capitalism or other. I don’t think anything is perfect. No matter how you slice it, giving work to the lowest bidder and selling products to the highest bidder is never going to be a win-win situation. Like I said I don’t have any solutions, I just wish we could push in the right direction at least a little bit.

      @ WJP – Well said. This is simply the global economy at work.

      =Matt=

    • Brock Perks

      Yes, Matthew. I agree. The life expectancy of any innovation, whether it’s a service or a product, is growing shorter all the time. Copyists pounce on anything interesting and start undercutting. Us consumers just follow our noses to the cheaper line and too soon the innovator has lost the lot. It seems an unintended consequence of the dog eat dog world but it’s reality. In ten years no one will get the money to back new ideas unless they’re starting from a developing world base with the lowest possible overheads – and that has to be a recipe for compromise and mediocrity.

  11. GMWdesign

    I purchased Yongnuo triggers and they were reliable for the first 3 months then misfiring or not firing at all. Even after a battery swap. I’ve had the pocket wizard PlusX’s now for a year and I’ve never had an issue. I think the price point is perfect.

    • Sterling

      I started having issues with my 622cs. Did a factory reset and its all good. I’m guessing that multiple buttons were pushed on the triggers while they were in my pocket or bag triggering some strange setting. Only had access to eTTL mode only in my menu

  12. Don

    As many have mentioned…PW is in real trouble. The low/mid range market is now satisfied with Chinese products that finally have good reliability. The high end market now has (at least for Canon…sorry…I only know Canon) Canon’s own system built into their newer high-end flashes. As one mentioned, one possible option is to get some companies to build in their technology into their flashes, but this is a bigger undertaking (time and money) than appears on the surface. And laying off almost 50% of the workforce… I’m sorry…it’s the end of PW.

  13. Jason

    Sooner or later all the strobes will have rf triggers built in with every possible on camera function. This includes mixed A/M modes, ttl comp, ttl ratios. 5d mark III w/ ($170 per pair) YN-622C triggers can do all those functions when paired with 580 ex II ($320 each used) or YN-568 II ($170 each new) strobes. All control is made via 3.2″ LCD on the camera body. When are these third party companies going to just start putting the RF in their strobes?

  14. John Mireles

    I own several dumb PW’s and their Flex TT system for Nikon. The Flex system is complete junk (reminds me I need to get it on Ebay). The dumb PW’s work great, but as we all know, are overpriced due to the influx of new competition. What PW needs to do is what any company must do to charge a premium for their products – make stuff that their competition doesn’t have. For starters, how about a TT system that actually works. This system has been out for years but I’ve seen no improvement. Next, how about a high-speed sync so that I can trigger my strobes at shutter speeds faster that 1/400? Innovate or die…

    • Steve

      That is one area where PW needs to work on is high shutter sync speeds. Natively most cameras only go to 1/200 -1/250 these days, but there can be high speed syncs over that amount. Gary Fong did a mini-seminar video with his products using the Phottix Odin system. He explained that the flash communication is based on aperture values. This is part of his ugly background series.

      The cheap trigger and PW, limit themselves basically in dumb-fire center pin mode. PW has some TTL comminucation, but not enough for full creativity. Also Phottix doesn’t have the same interference issues

  15. Nate

    I recently broke a few of my pocket wizard transceivers. I have always been happy with their product except for the plastic hot shoe that breaks very easily when dropped. Are any of these cheap alternatives able to trigger my current PocketWizard transceivers?

  16. Hector

    Pocket wizard rock !! They reliable and built like a tank !! No worries man is the mercedez and bmw”s of the world !!! The competition is just a Honda get it !!

  17. JR

    I think they’ll stay in business because they’re still considered the industry standard by the pros but yes, I think they are VASTLY overpriced and their sales will continue to be snipped away by brands such as Yongnuo.

    Considering their PlusX model(which really just seems to be the same thing as a YN-603) is about 5-6 times the price I don’t see much benefit in buying their brand. I do give credit and loyalty to brands that are innovators or first on the market but not when they gouge like that. $100 for something that is about $10 in radio shack parts with 1950s(or older) technology is hardly worth the premium they are charging.

    I would have never considered Yongnuos if the price for the PWs were anywhere near what I would consider reasonable. Before they came out with the PlusX, with a four flash setup I would have needed 5 PWs at ~$150 each so that’s about $750…just for triggers to get started. I was able to get into the Yongnuo manual 603s for under $100 total.

  18. Dave

    It’s funny these companies started out with a good product and try to live off their old reputations with high priced products and huge margins. IT worked well when the little guys weren’t as reliable. That’s no longer truth and their reputation means nothing now. Yongnuo has the reputation now and with inexpensive good products. I upgraded to 622’s and 622tx and couldn’t be happier. 3 receivers, 1 transmitter with more options (ttl) all for less then 2 basic Pocket wizards. Just sold my last Nikon flash and now use nothing but Yongnuo Flashes. No more overheating 900’s for an obscene price. The yongnuo’s are very reliable, rugged and if it breaks I’ll throw it out and get another. These companies have to realize reputation isn’t everything especially when your quality and features are not there anymore. .

  19. Joe Koren

    I really feel that the Pocket Wizards are a good product and they do have some features that other brands do not have such as triggering strobes with a light meter and being able to control output with a light meter. Also having a built in system for the Einsteins and the Bowens (Calumet) is a great benefit to many photographers – I would buy a system for that alone based on not having to carry AA batteries for a wedding. If they did want to improve to compete. I think the biggest area would be the removal of the calibration shot in the Canon system. Not everyone can afford, like wedding photographers, to have the first shot be trash. I think either adding more built in systems like the Einstein or Bowens (Calumet) strobes. Maybe the ability to add additional groups.

  20. Shannon

    Here’s a clue: get out of the hardware manufacturing business. License the technology directly to camera and lighting makers and have these venders build the functionality into their products. Ideally, even cell phones should be able to house built-in basic triggers. The hardware necessary is so small that even speedlights can house built in receivers.

  21. Mike Constable

    I bought PW Plus IIIs a few years ago because they offered great manual flash, zone grouping A-D, wireless shutter, etc but after a a year or so after a year or so I got sick of setting the flash up the putting it up on a light pole taking a test shot and pull it down back up and so on until getting it right. And also didn’t like how you had to have a cord connected to a hotshoe that PW didn’t sell then. So now I am using YN622c and love them, they have worked 100% so far. I shoot manually but having 3 TTL triggers that don’t need a special hotshoe cords or special TX or RX because these trigger are smart and can switch between TX/RX as needed. I love being able to control all my flash settings while my flashes are up on a light pole in a softbox, behind a wall from my 5D3 menu. And the best part I get 3 YN622c for about the cost of one PW Plus III. So it is no surprise that PW is losing money and having a lay people off it is sad that these people had to loss their jobs.

  22. Rob

    I started using PW’s years ago. They worked great, were reliable and did what I needed. Once all the new Chinese triggers started flooding the market, I made the switch and sold my PW’s. After having used the Phottix, Yongnuo, iShoot and a few others, I went back to the PWIII and PW Plus X. Although the inexpensive ones were good, they were still never as reliable as the PW’s. I may be the anomaly but when I hit the button, the strobe has to fire.

    • Chris Adval

      Worked for a little over a year, started to act up, and simply replaced the CR2 battery, it works like new… :-)

  23. Chris Adval

    They are losing money because the yungnro gives most photographers the bare bones to work off-camera flashes… its reliable and sometimes it would be nice to have a PW to make the job a bit easier and faster which most don’t see that.

  24. Gremlin

    Agreed with most of You, had pair of PW Multimax for firing remote cameras and had a lot of problems.

    Sooner or later PW must realize that healthy competition just killed them. With global bad situation in photo business, people looking for cheaper Chinese solutions that works fine for 1/3 of PW prices, especially if we talk about accessories.

    Serious price (and income) reduction is only way to get PW back to the game.

  25. joel

    It never makes me happy to read that so many people lost their jobs but this really was inevitable. You can only live off reputation for so long when your product isn’t actually better than the competition.

    It seems to me like they’ve spent most of their attention on making sure that industry “leaders and personalities” (the ones that so many hobbyist look to for purchase advice) kept using and recommending PWs because that was the only card they had left to play. The truth is that as soon as those Pixel Kings and YN 622s hit the market it was over for them long term.

  26. Leroy

    Part of the problem is with such a high entry price, PW was not able to build any brand loyalty. Take Mercedes (or BMW, etc). They sell, cars that people in their early 20’s can afford, as their income increases, they move up in models. By getting them up early, you have a lifetime customer. PW on the other end came out with the high end triggers and tried to towards economy triggers. By the time they did this, companies like Yongnuo, Pixel King and Stratos had already grabbed up all those new comers.

  27. Ron Christopher

    Their engineering department still hasn’t been able to get their products to work with the Canon 1DX. What they need to do is hire some new engineers.

  28. Stephen Deleski

    I own 3 PWIII and one plusX. Flashes, Nissan 866, Canon 580ex, 420ex, Yongo 560, and a photogenic studio 320. The Canon is the main problem, so much rf interference that it barely works 3 feet from the transmitter. Now I have ferite filters on most cords for the small flash units. After reading this I’m going to try the Yongo’s, mainly for TTL and HSS. The used Photogenic’s at 100-150 are a much better and reliable deal than most Canon flash units.

  29. Kris

    “It seems to me like they’ve spent most of their attention on making sure that industry “leaders and personalities” (the ones that so many hobbyist look to for purchase advice) kept using and recommending PWs because that was the only card they had left to play.”

    Absolutely.

    McNally/Hobby/et al don’t come cheap.

  30. sean

    they enjoyed their market dominance and seem to have driven it till the wheels fell off.
    old story, new characters.

    I could never justify the cost for PW when starting out.
    I use the YongNuo 603c tranceivers.

    I will upgrade to 622c when i NEED HSS.

    i didnt like not being able to remote trigger just the flashes to meter and then i ran across this youtube vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecVNenuIQvg
    with a how-to diy a switch to allow remote firing so I can meter without the PW module ($90) w my sekonic 358.

    long live yong nuo.

  31. Joel

    Think of Apple and the iPod. Apple didn’t create the market in fact many thought they were late to the market. They established themselves as the leader in the high end market. As competitors began to bite at their ankles Apple would release a lower cost product (but still more than the competitor) that had the same higher end user experience but just much more restrictive in capacity. This destroyed the low end market for the competitors.

    To regain market share Pocket Wizard needs to destroy the low end market opportunity competitors have. Pocket Wizard it behind the curve they’ve let competitors gain a foot hold with a low cost trigger. Before long those competitor will start to eye the higher end market. Then Pocket Wizard will really be in trouble. As of now Pocket Wizard is still the standard that others are measured against. So they can still pull this off. They could release a lower end device that is still priced 20% – 30% higher than competitors and take away the low end. However the key is that they don’t cannibalize the higher end professional market. This could be done by the use of limited range. A new product with a stated range of 30-40 feet but a likely reliable range of 40-50 feet. This could be done without having to re-engineer a whole device just change out the antenna and limit a feature or two. Think of the smaller iPods (shuffle, mini) when people out grow the range they step up to the bigger products. This would create a model priced close enough to the low end that people pick the standard. A competitor trying to start in the low end won’t move enough product to hit an economy of scale and they’ll fade away. The worst thing they could do is start producing sub-par products that would reflect poorly on the brand as a whole. That would kill the company.

  32. Paul Carter

    While the prices suck, I’ll still go with the pocket wizard system because I often have my trigger out of reach, sometimes half way up a cliff if I’m photographing my friends rock climbing/rappelling and I’ve had other systems malfunction too often. If it’s a studio shoot maybe it’s not such a big deal (I’ve only spent about an hour in a studio so I wouldn’t know) but I missed too many shots with other systems. Plus the hypersync is really cool, but maybe other brands have that, I haven’t bothered to shop around since dropping all my extra money on pocket wizard…

  33. Alex Solla

    I guess the place where I see PW failing to innovate is that it has studiously avoided working with companies like Fuji or Sony or Olympus to innovate in-line with their new products. Sure, “pros” all use Canon and Nikon. Bullshit. A lot of pros are tired of the lack of innovation and creativity at Nikon and Canon. I know you “can” use PW on Fuji or Sony or Olympus…but PW has really put their focus on Canon and Nikon. There are only so many pros who can afford to go that route. The other thing I wish PW did was deeper product integration. I hate having stupid dongles hanging off my camera or strobes. Find a way to be part of the solution rather than a bandaid.

  34. Danny

    Pocket wizards are great as far as performance. I often shoot with my strobe outside the house, lighting through the windows, while shooting inside the house. In the past, Pocket wizard is the only one that is reliable to do that. However, out of the 5 PW I have, 2 of them are not working. It cost about $100 to repair out the door! 2 out of 5, that is a 40 % failure! The news that PW is not doing well financially is not surprising. As a consumer, I am looking at others. I have not replaced my broken PWs because they are so expensive. I am getting by with my 3 now, but I think I can get 4 Yongnuos for some $150. Hope they can match the performance. If PW reduce their entry X model to around $59, I will buy.

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