Misstep

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  • Updated 5 years ago
While I am a happy customer and have jumped on the 6300 bandwagon, I am puzzled by the recent product introduction. Kudos for having the 6300 immediately available upon product release, but the fact that they were basically out of stock before Dayton even began and had to do some last minute shuffling in order to make sure a few were available at the show is puzzling. Either they are under capitalized, did a poor job of forecasting demand, or are gun shy. Knowing of course that hind sight is 20/20, it really was not that difficult to speculate that demand would be high given the price point and market trends. I'm also sure that Flex is painfully aware that they could have done better. In any event, I am happy for them and wish them continued success. There are far worse problems that they could have endured, such as the 6700,6500 introduction.
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James Kirk

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Posted 5 years ago

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Glad you're adding a 6300, but surprised to see anyone not cheering success.  I've seen large professional forecasting departments get it wrong with simply products like a new range of woman's shoes, putting those of us in production into a tizzy playing catch up.

The success of the 6300 at a very attractive price point in such a small market is not a product launch I'd like to be tasked to forecast - especially not as fickle as hams can be.

With so many of us willing to put in orders knowing we have to wait 10 weeks or so for a radio speaks testament to how exciting this product is at this price point.  Stacking up committed orders to deliver in Q3 is a huge FRS success, even if the instant gratification of those who hesitated won't happen.

Rather think there are a lot of other "knob based radio" manufacturers who somewhat unexpectedly now have plenty of radios unsold sitting in stock. 

I should mention I did not order a 6300, as I am thinking of another 6700 for remote use once the WAN-able update is launched.


73

Steve

K9ZW


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Lee, Elmer

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Flex shows up with a sellout radio and someone needs to bitch about the success? You must be an Elecraft owner.

73. W9OY
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James Kirk

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I have respected your opinions Lee until now.
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Mike K5UX

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I am very much in agreement with K9ZW's and W9OY's comments above. I think Steve hit the nail on the head when he inferred hams can be a little fickle at times. Speaking only for myself, I am very excited about the success FRS is currently enjoying with the release of a new product, even though it's success created a backlog. Oh yes, I have a 6500 and had to wait for mine to arrive last year, but the wait was certainly worth it.

73
Mike
K5UX
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Bill-W9OL

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I agree with you Mike.
The more Flex products are in demand, the more capital they will have to spend on providing more features, faster.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
We just missed the mark on demand.  While we believed that the FLEX-6300 would be well received, it's always a concern that we are "drinking the Kool-Aid" (believing that our product would be better received than reality).  We sold our first quarters' predicted volume in a week-and-a-half so we really missed the mark.  

We put a large number of radios on a truck headed to Dayton the week before Dayton and then with all of the orders realized that we were in the unenviable position of being able to offer radios over the counter at Dayton while we could not fulfill all the orders placed online earlier.  This didn't seem fair to those that ordered online even though it was a forecasting issue on our side and we didn't foresee what would happen.  To "right this wrong" we made a decision to ship a number of radios that we had sent to Dayton to customers that had ordered online.  It was quite the logistical challenge, but we managed to ship radios from Dayton direct to customers that had ordered online before Dayton.  If you received you radio this week and it was sent from Dayton, this is why.

We are now working to pull up the production schedule as much as we can including rushing component delivery at additional cost.  We'd love to be perfect at forecasting, but it's hard to know how well a brand-new product will be received.  We certainly didn't want to join the ranks of electronic companies with famous overestimations of demand although this didn't occur to us while we were forecasting ;-)  See Atari video game burial 
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James Kirk

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Steve, thank you for an honest, intellectual reply.
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Lee, Elmer

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So basically you're thanking Steve for eating humble pie for not having a crystal ball?  So if you didn't get a radio this round just get a radio the next round in say 3 months.  Big whoop.  The "radio" (SmartSDR) will only be improved by then anyway.  

The people at Flex are our fellow hams and part of our community (check the first word in the URL) and deserve our respect.  Did you feel slighted when I disrespected you?  Maybe think about that next time.  I know some of these guys n gals and they devote themselves to us and bring home the bacon to us.  I don't really see the need to take them to task for running their business in a prudent and successful way.  Actually selling out is a good thing not a misstep.  The secondary offering will have even higher sales momentum.  The more fun we have with our radios and share that with other people the larger the community will become.  

73  W9OY



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James Kirk

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Thank you, I will think about that next time.
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Drax

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Some economists say a sold out product is priced too low.
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K5FM

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Flex Radio is a business, and many of us prefer to  think of ourselves  as  customers that have purchased a product, not  members of a community. Questioning the method of operation, or even the  solvency of a business from which  you  have made a significant purchase  is a valid concern for which Steve N5AC  made an appropriate response. Religion can be found in many places, but Flex Radio is probably not one of them, those that bristle at any comment critical of Flex or their products should probably take a deep breath, and accept the fact that for most of us, it is just  a radio, not a ticket to salvation.

73 K5FM

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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Drax, taken in isolation your comment about economics is true. The pricing for the FLEX-6300 is, however, tightly bound by costs on one side and our perception of the price elasticity of demand for this radio on the other. We felt that pricing would be relatively elastic for this radio and so the price reflects this and our other goal of wanting to provide a very compelling price point to encourage those still using traditional superhet radios to see how much more capable a direct sampling SDR is. Alas, we do not have the vast data that is available to consumer marketing companies (think groceries) to really calculate price elasticity directly.
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Lee, Elmer

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Another issue is likely the non linear nature of demand given the size of the amateur market. It's likely the demand curve is more like the charging curve on a capacitor. Initially demand is nearly infinite but as the demand starts to be satisfied sales start to slow. You see this in the IPO market all the time.

73. W9OY
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Bill W2PKY

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After hanging around Tim for an hour at Dayton I could not resist taking delivery of a 6300 OTC. Glad FLEX  had some product there to sell. Saw others walking away with a box now and then while watching demos of the 6300. Seemed to be a lot of interest in the SDR format. Wonder if one of the big 3 will introduce a competing product. As for selling out, even Apple has run out of product on the first day of a launch. FLEX can only have smiles on their face over the success of this product.
Can't wait to makes some contacts.

73;

Bill W2PKY
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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We do need to remember that few things in economics fully scale upwards & downwards, and the economist always needs to have qualifiers, small print and exceptions to everything they say.

Product launches are a special case as well.

The limited dataset, lack of repeatability, and a hundred other factors come into play.  Expect someone could work it up into a PhD thesis, but doubt a useful predictive tool would be the result.

Again congratulations to FRS for blowing away their own forecast, to all the new 6300 owners (and order holders) and to this community for its participation.

I'll cover the first round if we ever get a chance to discuss the economic forecasting of ham radio sales in the most appropriate place - a watering hole.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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You can see the irony in someone  trying to call out the Flex crew for subversive business practices when they are hiding their own identity by not supplying their name and callsign.
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Mike K5UX

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Neal, well said.  I agree 100% with your comment.
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K5FM

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He was questioned why Flex did not have optimum 6300 stock levels for Dayton, and  provided three possible reasons, of which one was correct, and the others perfectly reasonable and common for businesses with new product offerings, what  I fail to see is  any accusation of subversive business practices. 
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Bob- W5TX

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I think most corporations price a product to make a reasonable profit achieve a desired market penetration and provide the maximum heartburn for the competition whoever that may be. I suspect FRS has achieved all three goals. W5TX
(Edited)
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Dale KB5VE

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I purchased a 6500 at 11:30 the night they were announced. As you know I waited a long time to get my purchase. Many of my friends felt I was crazy for waiting even some who now own the 6500!!!!

So I say why make negative comments if you have not bought and if you have bought I feel there will be few negative remarks. You can always buy another radio, and if agree with will it is a radio not a religious experience, like all radios something new and better will come out (remember the 3000 and 5000). Just enjoy the moment and rest assured your 6000 series will be the most current and uptd radio arround until the flex 7000 comes out. I feel I will be using this rig for many years to come.

Well done flex great to have a baby brother to grow up with.

73
Dale
kB5VE
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Bob- W5TX

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As I recall I had a pretty good wait for my K2. A lot less investment for Elecraft to have ample inventory at introduction. Like someone commented even Steve Jobs didn't get it right with several of iPhones. Just imagine what it might have been like if the intro hadn't been closely held. For FRS it's a great problem to solve, and they will.
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Dale KB5VE

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I find it really strang for people to complain about the inventory running out. My wife and I wanted a Datsun 240zpZ when they first came out. The demand was so great we had to pay full price put a 200.00 non refundable deposit and when a car came in we had to take no matter what color or what equipment, ours came in and I sold it for 900.00 more than what I paid for it and never drove it. The Harley Davidson motorcycle has had this same thing happen. I phones and many other electronic items have had more demand for the product than there was inventory. Many of the large football colleges have huge waiting list for season tickets, I have 4 season tickets to the Alabama games and Alabama limits the waiting list to 10,000 .

All this leads me to say I have never heard any of these companies or colleges accused of doing anything wrong or misleading the public. Hey if you feel this could be handled better get your checkbook out and make Gerald a offer he cannot refuse then you can bring out a new radio with unlimited supply available. The companies I mentioned above are much larger than Flex and they couldn't!?

If you have a flex6300 drive it arround the block and smile and wave, if you want one get in line and wait, if you don't want to wait set on the hood of your 1952 Hudson hornet and watch the new models go by. But it is your choice If you want a Flex or not, waiting should not be a issue.
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Bob- W5TX

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Dale, I couldn't agree more.
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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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I enjoy watching college football on TV.  It sure is easy to quarterback the play after you see the instant replay.  I never played football but even I can see what the quarterback should have done after the play is over.

We made what we thought was an optimistic but sane forecast and we were wrong on the low side.  
In my career, I have been wrong on the high side and the low side of the forecast and rarely dead on.  I can tell you it is much more unpleasant to forecast too high. We are reasonably good at forecasting run rate business but it is almost impossible to predict early demand on a new product announcement.  

Historically, we pre-announced our products and took orders ahead of production.  This is what most ham radio manufacturers do when they announce new transceivers.  This is a great help to the manufacturer in planning the first production runs so that you can hit pretty much dead on.  However, all customers would have to wait usually three months or more to get their radio under the pre-announcement scenario. This is the first time we have announced and shipped at the same time in our 11 year history.  Also, it appears we hit a sweet spot in the market.  

We are making good progress in pulling in our foretasted production from June and July.  However, that will leave us a gap until we can pull in all the long lead materials for the next production run. We will be flying in the custom components to improved the schedule as best we can.  

Thanks to all for your orders and patience as we catch up.

73, Gerald
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Lee, Elmer

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Personally (as the designated religious zealot on the channel) I think this is less about production and marketing and more about personalities.  Some folks when they win the lotto get excited and happy others bitch about paying the taxes.  I think how you approach life is how you approach ham radio and Flex radio in particular.  I think the "discussion" is really superficial and largely unrelated to the underlying dilemma of how one approaches life.  

For me I'm pretty much a glass half full type especially when it comes to a project like the release of this transceiver.  I have plenty of tolerance built into my expectation.  It's a work in progress and the fun part for me is being part of the process.  I've spent the weekend thus far trying to figure out how to best integrate the 6300 into a contest environment.  There are a few small changes that need to be made or at least be made available in the API so the logging programs can tell the radio how to act.  I also need to change my approach to antennas.  But that's good since its summer and I need to spend a little more time out in the yard anyway.  You can go to my blog (http://sdr-w9oy.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-bands-are-alive.html) and see the sea of RF to which my radio was exposed and not the first hiccup as far as the front end is concerned.  These were taken before sundown and the RF got only more intense as the night progressed. 

You want my advice (as the designated religious zealot) if you don't have one of these suckers you best get your name on the list before they sellout again.  I'm lovin' my Flex 6300.

73  W9OY
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Carl Young

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I waited 10 months for my 6500 so what is 10 weeks or so!

Sounds like another out of the park hit for Flex and ham radio to me at any rate.

73,
Carl / K5HK
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Eric W1NEJ

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I have had a Flex 5000C almost since the beginning of the 5000 series, and when the 6000 series came out looked at it, but determined the 6700 and 6500 were both too much radio for my rag chew operating style, and too expensive.  

On May 9 at about 9:30 AM I received an email from Flex announcing the availability of the 6300 shipping now.  

I did not have time to read it on May 9, but on May 10 (Saturday) I spent about two hours looking over the new 6000 series, reading the reviews of the 6700 and 6500 ob eham, reading the documentation available on the Flex web site, etc., and then without hesitation placed my order for the 6300, with the internal antenna tuner.  They shipped from Dayton the next Thursday, and I received it last Tuesday.  

All I can say is this radio is FANTASTIC!.  And the internal tuner is great!  

I understand that the software will be vastly improved.  Looking forward to being to operate digital modes over the Ethernet connection without all the audio cables.

I liked the Flex 5000, but the new 6000 series is more than a significant improvement.  

Way to go, Flex!

Now I need to find a good microphone!

And way to go on making the 6300 for those of us whose operating styles don't need 4 or 8 receivers!
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Dale KB5VE

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I use a pr40 heil , the 781 heil, pro 5 head set all work great. I can help you eq it in 10 minutes . If you own a mc60 or a yaesu 100 mic. I see no reason anny mic you have used succefully on any ham radio will not work.
(Edited)
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Eric W1NEJ

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Dale -- I lived in Hattiesburg from 1990 to 2005.....what are your settings for the eq for the 781 and MC100?
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Dale KB5VE

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You can call me at 601 270 8117 and I will help you.
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Dale KB5VE

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Eric I moved her in 1994. Been here 20 years now. I helped to start the Lamar club. Monitored 145.37 all the time. Mart k5ajx who owned the repeated died one and a half years ago. Give me a phone call and I will work with you. We just got in from vacation so we played hooky from church today.

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