Why did Dayton 2012 have so many Vaporware Phantom New Product Offerings?
- Kenwood had a stage-prop mock-up of what their new FS-990S should look like, but no actual radio, specifications or even pricing. They do have Photoshop created adds in the radio magazines and have been hinting at new “executive class transceiver” for a couple years.
- Alpha didn’t even had their mock-up of what their new Alpha-4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner would look like when Dayton 2012 opened its doors, though fairly complete hardware models did arrive later during the show. Software apparently isn’t ready, so an operating product wasn’t ready. Alpha had been avoiding pinning down delivery dates for this tuner, but has had a pre-order list taking system up since November 2011.
- The third is more a pre-announcement and advanced showing, as the product was not announced until Dayton. Flex-Radio had hardware prototypes and panadapter software simulations running of the Alpha Stage hardware & software for their new Flex-6500, Flex-6700R and Flex-6700 series. In all fairness there was no expectation of anything more – just a preview from Flex-Radio on where their next product was going.
What is all this about?
In the case of Kenwood one can only guess. They have hinted for at least five years that they had this class of radio coming out. I listened to the salesman at Dayton who said this new model will be “almost as good” as the other top end rigs out there, but “for a better [lower] price!” Whoopee, I can take out a home equity loan to have a runner up in performance but shave a few bucks off the dollars needed. Can’t say this inspires me in any way.
Alpha seems to mean well and may end up with a great product. The early announcement of a not yet ready product seems to be to create a buzz and do some positioning in the marketplace. I know I didn’t buy a new tuner awaiting this new Alpha – though it is again supposed to be pricey it offered the potential of being the last tuner a ham might ever need to buy. Credit has to be given to not pushing product out before it is ready, though Alpha should have had a better handle on its development time.
Flex-Radio intended to “drop the big one” on amateur radio with a “game changer” and never promised more than a chance to preorder a new radio when production starts in six-eight months (or so). They needed to gauge the support for bringing this technology to the amateur market, and I would guess took away a lot of potential buyers for other premium rigs at Dayton with their deposit for a production slot strategy. They never promised anything but announcements and really delivered more with some prototypes and illustrations of what the software might look like.
So the phantom gear at Dayton 2012 would seem to be each a unique case – Kenwood struggling to find its market and simply not having a ready product – Alpha having good intentions buy not having development far enough along to match real product to marketing’s promise – and Flex-Radio who only promised they would have an announcement only to actually have much more to show.