This thread brings to mind the Leica camera company. At the end of the second war, Germany lost all the patents it had previously owned. Prior to the war, the Leica camera was considered to be the finest 35mm camera made. It was used by professionals and well-to-do enthusiasts, it was far too expensive for ordinary people to buy.
Anyway, after the war, and Leica having lost their patents, copies of their cameras began being produced around the world. Quite surprisingly, many of these copies were superb, and performed even better than the original Leica. But of course Leica did not sit around and cry about the situation. They introduced a very high quality and highly improved version of their traditional camera. But it was not different enough to see significant sales, so Leica went back to the drawing board and came up with an incredibly innovative, state-of-the-art camera, the M3. This became the ultimate tool for 35mm photographers for a decade.
Of course the M3 was quite expensive, and was a very exclusive product, which increased it's desirability. Over the years the M series has evolved a little, and the company has seen a few difficult periods, but it is still going strong, and has seen good sales in recent years.
Brompton has some of the same mystique as Leica, and shouldn't be afraid to face competition if and when it arises. Such competition will require them to build better bikes more efficiently, which can only benefit those of us who want the best bike possible.
Exactly what I've been saying. Competition is the lifeblood of innovation - AMD vs Nvidia, Apple vs Android (Samsung mostly), Coke vs Pepsi - no matter how incredible your product is, there should be something to challenge you to take it to the next level. Even if a solid competitor enters the ring tomorrow, Bromptons could continue to leverage their fame and "mystique" for a few more years before they'd be forced to innovate or lose the marathon.
Originally Posted by Sangetsu
The most recent case in my mind is Nvidia's painfully slow roll-out of their high-end products with barely any threat from AMD. They could take it slow and keep prices artificially high without any pressure to moderate. Even though I was angry with Nvidia at their price-gouging, I was hard-pressed to ignore them as AMD cards had publicized heat and stability problems up the wazoo. It's not that Nvidia did not do their due R&D, but without a viable threat, why should they push out new stuff at reasonable prices?
Besides that, almost every industry has faced competition from low-life patent/copyright-infringement fiends, and in most cases, the winners are consumers and the industry in general. Why should Bromptons be any different?
what has Happened.. the Crankset is now better a forged spider .. brake lever is improved ..
the 3 speed shifter is mich easier to use than the old Sturmey trigger shifter ..
Now the BWR & BSR hub is custom made for Brompton double wall rims with a rear specific angled nipple hole .
lots of little things , frame is still Sound.. hinge plates were Butt welded , now its a stronger reinforced joint using a Cast hinge ..
that not only better but allows a volume speed up, to meet demand around the world.
London is still an expensive place to manufacture things .. compared to China, in particular..
I agree. Building bikes in the USA and UK are very expensive propositions compared to China, but it's also a smart marketing strategy. The cost is passed to the consumer, and can be marked up to the nth degree because well, it's made in the UK/US! To be fair, it's a sound and admirable business strategy. However there's no way to know if Brompton is holding a large cache of minor improvements just to leak them out on a biennial basis. Why should they introduce 10 new improvements (ie. show their hand) - on the 2015 model when they could milk them over 2 or 3 iterations.
Originally Posted by fietsbob
I remember when World of Warcraft om 2008 still had the most expensive monthly subscription - US$15 a month - when they started charging people money for mounts and pets. People started protesting in disgust. At that point they had about 7,500,000 active subscribers, and were making 15x7.5m = US$120,000,000 a month!
Nonetheless, a portion of supporters used the defense that server maintenance and having an army of technical advisors and administration were not cheap in the USA, before Blizzard themselves revealed the cost to them was in the realm of $200,000,000 over four years, at which point they have already earned $5,400,000,000 ($5.4 Billion). So not only were they making A TON off their subscriptions, they were also making incredibly good money - pure, unadulterated profit - off the side, with fanboys defending their greed to the death.
Granted this is a extreme example, but it shows just how easy it is to manipulate public expectations. WoW had barely any viable competition, and therefore, no need to moderate their pricing or take risks to improve their services. Thereafter, I choose never to make bold assumptions in favor of companies already making good money - they can certainly fend for themselves.
Do we, even if we can afford it, need to make the rich even richer? I have a child I rather pass my money down to, than a multi-billionaire developer.
I don't understand why patents even exist. If I am living in the forest and build a better lean-too shelter my neighbour Neanderthals will copy it if it is more leak-proof, faster to make, whatever. So what? Some will experiment and make it even better. A restaurant makes a good soup. People figure out the recipe and copy it. Why should industrial design be any different?
The system is certainly imperfect but patents are important to give individuals and companies the confidence to dedicate resources towards innovation, knowing their hard work will be protected if and when it succeeds.
Originally Posted by Hermespan
Of course, unscrupulous humans have discovered loopholes and are taking advantage of the system (like Apple) by collecting patents of every single silly little thing - without using them - just to hobble their competitors, or launch a lawsuit.
"Green Pick-up-call Button"? Patented. "Small wobble each time you swipe the screen"? Patented.
The guys who thought they were being smart when they did this should be lined up and shot in the head.