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The plot thickens (Meade takeover)

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#976 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 04:11 AM


I'm sure they are, but that has never been my point. Please read carefully. My point was that in the 1990s Meade grew a great deal, and its place of growth was in the mid-range of expense, especially with the LX90 and LX200 series. I have only said that the mid-range has many other choices now beyond the SCT and that that can't help Meade in a shrinking market. That's all I've said. There is nothing to disagree with. I never said that mid-range RC or mid-range refractors have devastated the SCT market. I said that they have offered new alternatives to Meade's place of strength. What's to argue with?



I agree that there Meade's decline corresponds with an increase in quality scopes from Asian.

But Celestron seems to be doing fine in the "midrange" SCT marketplace, it looks to me that the real problem is competition for the SCT dollar from Celestron rather than from refractors and specialty imaging scopes from Asia. Celestron seems to be thriving in this market and it does seem that Meade's decline is coincident with Celestron's rise.

Jon
 

#977 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 04:21 AM

Just look at the population at your average astronomy club, mostly older and mostly men. I am at the very tail end of the official baby boom (and thus still working without sufficient time or money) but we are at about its middle to peak years right now in regard to the age of people who are well into the hobby. As this group tapers off, then I would not be surprised to see the hobby decline.



I think that astronomy club membership is a poor indicator of who is participating in this hobby. Modern Clubs and personal contacts are online. Whether it's Twitter or Cloudy Nights, for the younger observer, the internet is where it happens, these are the modern clubs and younger observers are here... This makes an interesting read:

Age Poll of Astronomers

The number of non-baby boomers is substantial.

Jon
 

#978 Starhawk

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 06:42 AM

I'm not a baby boomer, for example.

-Rich
 

#979 Starhawk

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 07:11 AM

And part of this was a business model more on out-competing others in their central competencies. But that's one thing when you're apple bringing in the iPod. It's something else entirely when it means superficial copies with reduced performance at full price. I'm afraid Meade always looked after the pretty paint job more than design execution.

So, yes, I would guess they had many internal discussions about how to stamp out Celestron once and for all. Obviously they expected bringing Celestron to its knees would bring about a golden age. Instead, it created a large number of enemies, not only amongst other vendors who clearly saw an eventual threat, but amongst consumers who would never forgive that behavior, and had ready means for a lifetime of revenge.

There's a definition of waste for a business: Waste is anything you do your customers will not pay you more to do more of. It turns out amateur astronomers aren't interested in paying some company to destroy others in the hobby, so there was no hope for a direct benefit from doing this. But it also polarized the manufacturing community. Notice how after the Meade lawsuit against celestron, the RC manufacturers ganged up on Meade and their dealers in the RCX lawsuit. That was a tit-for-tat which obviously caught Meade by surprise. And I have to wonder if you ask for a quote as Meade if you get the same deal as anyone else.

Ask this question: what blood feuds are left in amateur astronomy with Meade's departure? It seems to me everyone else in the business learned something from this.

-Rich

The impression I get is that Meade saw Celestron as their only competitor and set out to beat them, not by making and selling better products but by trying to destroy Celestron.

I'm referring to the patent wars of the early to mid 2000s on which we hear that Meade spent $15M. If the profits over that period had been increased by $15M their numbers would have looked considerably different.

Meanwhile in the real world there were all sorts of other manufacturers coming along, Synta, iOptron, GSO and so on. They occupied the middle ground, where I suspect most of the profit is, with practical, reliable equipment at a good price.

Chris


 

#980 rmollise

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:19 AM


If they didn't it's because they were funding all the R&D
And customer service for everything else from that line.

Where do you think they were getting that money?


Negative. It's because for relatively small businesses selling to Walmart is a losing game. Where were they getting that money? From the Advanced Series, and other scopes down to the ETX. Not from 60mms they bought for almost nothing, but had to sell to WallyWorld for almost nothing. :lol:
 

#981 mark379

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:49 AM




In the kind of scopes I like, yeah... When your LX-200 dies, you just maybe dead in the water. When the "electronics" on my Meade Newtonian dies, I have to look for a new clock drive..

Jon [/quote]

You can always de- fork the OTA on the LX 200 if need be and install a dovetail rail. Then any e/q mount up to the task will suffice...
 

#982 Cotts

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:41 AM

You know when I expect to see a real drop in the astronomy hobby? It's when the baby boomers (generally considered to be those of us born between 1946 and 1964) have all passed on. We are the children of the beginning and peak of the government-sponsored space age and are the most common people with both the money and time to be well invested in this hobby. Just look at the population at your average astronomy club, mostly older and mostly men. I am at the very tail end of the official baby boom (and thus still working without sufficient time or money) but we are at about its middle to peak years right now in regard to the age of people who are well into the hobby. As this group tapers off, then I would not be surprised to see the hobby decline. That is when we may see a true drop in the hobby's popularity and population unless something happens to really change things (maybe the commercial space race will make a difference). For now, I don't see things as being all that bad, regardless of Meade's likely demise. So far, as one company declines there are still others rising, both large and small. When companies start disappearing with no new ones stepping up, then we are in trouble. I do note a stronger trend to imaging and higher-end equipment. This again reflects people with both available time and money.


I attended my first astronomy club meetings and events in the 1970's when I was in my 20's and was struck by how OLD everyone looked - all grey-haired middle-aged and more males. I doubt the demographic has changed much by now except I am one of the older codgers now.

Our beloved hobby 'selects against' younger participants (if I may use a term from evolutionary biology) for the following reasons:

1. Ours is a disposable income hobby. Younger people, on average, are far from their peak earning years.

2. Younger people have young families which take up a lot of time, perhaps all the free time available to a potential astronomy hobbyist.

3. Younger people have, on average, less vacation time than older workers which again cuts into time availability for the hobby.

I think we 'flow through' the hobby as we age but the hobby itself keeps the same demographic over the duration of multiple generations.

Dave
 

#983 Calypte

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:56 AM

I'm not a baby boomer, for example.

-Rich

I'm not either. I'm a "war baby" (born 1944).
 

#984 EFT

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:57 AM

Just look at the population at your average astronomy club, mostly older and mostly men. I am at the very tail end of the official baby boom (and thus still working without sufficient time or money) but we are at about its middle to peak years right now in regard to the age of people who are well into the hobby. As this group tapers off, then I would not be surprised to see the hobby decline.



I think that astronomy club membership is a poor indicator of who is participating in this hobby. Modern Clubs and personal contacts are online. Whether it's Twitter or Cloudy Nights, for the younger observer, the internet is where it happens, these are the modern clubs and younger observers are here... This makes an interesting read:

Age Poll of Astronomers

The number of non-baby boomers is substantial.

Jon


The graphs in that discussion show exactly what I am talking about at this point and mirror well what I see in our club and at other evens like PATS, NEAF and ASAE. The peak in the 50-60 range is the end of the boomer crowd. The actual data is clearly shifted to the higher age from the ideal normal distribution. Tom Polakis' plots show the same thing with the general population going down as the number of respondents rises in the 50-60 and 60-70 ranges. That doesn't mean that there are no younger people in the hobby by any means, but if the graph continues forward like the wave it looks like, then a significant drop off occurs after the last of the booms fall off. The hope would be that the graph remains fairly constant with the peak continuing in the 50-60 age range where more people have the time and money for the hobby. Only time will tell and that will take 10 to 20 more years. It would be helpful if we had similar polls from 10, 20 and 30 years ago to establish a trend or a lack thereof.

Thus, for now and at least 10-20 more years, I think that the hobby is generally fine (given no significant financial meltdown in the interim). Companies come and companies go. As long as the curve remains generally the same, it just means that the older crowd has the time and money for the hobby. If the wave moves forward or the 50-60 range drops off significantly, that's the sign that the boomers were dominating the hobby and their loss to it could hurt.

Of course all of this is really conjecture since the poll was anything but scientific or significant in numbers. Its just that for me I see this as a more important concern than is the demise of Meade. I don't think that the demise of Meade is indicative of the doom and gloom that some people predict. It's simply the demise of a company where poor decisions were made. I could actually end up that the advent and popularity of easier to use equipment, remote operations, video astronomy and simpler image processing could force the curve downward more into the 30-50 age range where people may have the money but not the time to be in the hobby.
 

#985 Starhawk

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 11:07 AM

I think you're just looking at it one way; as though there is oblivion without that group. History shows it tends to be just different. It may be the Baby Boomers leaving the hobby just gives a different type of equipment and observing a day in the sun. Namely, I expect a lot more work on showing changes in the sky over time and othe rmovie-type imaging.

-Rich
 

#986 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 12:01 PM


The graphs in that discussion show exactly what I am talking about at this point and mirror well what I see in our club and at other evens like PATS, NEAF and ASAE. The peak in the 50-60 range is the end of the boomer crowd. The actual data is clearly shifted to the higher age from the ideal normal distribution.



I think Dave covered it quite nicely. Amateur astronomy is a hobby that requires both time and money, things older folks are more likely to have than younger folks.

Another factor that Dave did not mention is that this a hobby where the thrills are subtle, something for a calmer time in ones life. This is a older person's sport. It should be no surprise that older people are doing it...

But my point is to just read through the list and see how many younger members there are... lots and lots.

Jon
 

#987 EFT

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 12:25 PM



The graphs in that discussion show exactly what I am talking about at this point and mirror well what I see in our club and at other evens like PATS, NEAF and ASAE. The peak in the 50-60 range is the end of the boomer crowd. The actual data is clearly shifted to the higher age from the ideal normal distribution.



I think Dave covered it quite nicely. Amateur astronomy is a hobby that requires both time and money, things older folks are more likely to have than younger folks.

Another factor that Dave did not mention is that this a hobby where the thrills are subtle, something for a calmer time in ones life. This is a older person's sport. It should be no surprise that older people are doing it...

But my point is to just read through the list and see how many younger members there are... lots and lots.

Jon


I agree that there are plenty of young people involved and that the data can be seen as representing those people with the time and money to be involved in the hobby. But that thread discussion was much more informative in regards to the actual number of respondents than in regards to whether younger people are involved or not.

My point is that I don't think that the demise of Meade means that the hobby is dying as some people like to think. I don't think that it is a symptom of the hobby going down hill. It's only the result of bad business practices and a reflection of the common life cycle of many businesses. If you want to be concerned about something truly impacting the participation in the hobby, the demographics of the hobby are far more important. A very large slug of the hobby's population is going over the top of the graph right now. That is far more likely to impact the population of the hobby than the coming or going of any particular company. Those demographics are impacting many things in this country including things like health care so it is not surprising to see it reflected in this hobby as well.
 

#988 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 12:40 PM

I agree that there are plenty of young people involved and that the data can be seen as representing those people with the time and money to be involved in the hobby. But that thread discussion was much more informative in regards to the actual number of respondents than in regards to whether younger people are involved or not.

My point is that I don't think that the demise of Meade means that the hobby is dying as some people like to think. I don't think that it is a symptom of the hobby going down hill. It's only the result of bad business practices and a reflection of the common life cycle of many businesses. If you want to be concerned about something truly impacting the participation in the hobby, the demographics of the hobby are far more important. A very large slug of the hobby's population is going over the top of the graph right now. That is far more likely to impact the population of the hobby than the coming or going of any particular company. Those demographics are impacting many things in this country including things like health care so it is not surprising to see it reflected in this hobby as well.



I think Dave's point and one I agree with is that this is a sport best suited for older people, it has been that way and will probably always be that way.

I do agree that Meade's problems are of their own making. I remember reading something that Roland Christen wrote. Apparently John Diebel had told Roland that Meade's ED refractors would put Roland out of business.

I have to think that these days Astro-Physics is worth more than 4.5 million and seems to be still in business.

Jon
 

#989 gnowellsct

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:28 PM

I think Dave covered it quite nicely. Amateur astronomy is a hobby that requires both time and money, things older folks are more likely to have than younger folks.

Another factor that Dave did not mention is that this a hobby where the thrills are subtle, something for a calmer time in ones life. This is a older person's sport. It should be no surprise that older people are doing it...

But my point is to just read through the list and see how many younger members there are... lots and lots.

Jon


Well I don't know about you but I got into astronomy for to meet the numerous babes. Makes Malibu beach in summer look like and ol' folks' home. That's also why I joined a chess club.

GN
 

#990 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:53 PM


The Meade business model required mass-market sales to be the bulk of their profits.


Mass market sales to places like Walmart never formed the bulk of their profits. ;)


Meade made net revenue with high end scopes, but their business (well over 90% of it) was in low end scopes. This was a trend going back to at least around 2002. I'm kind of repeating myself because I have posted this several times on CN over the past decade. But this trend has never really changed. Meade was primarily in the mass market entry level telescope business. The numbers firmly back this up. Just because they didn't make any money in this business simply supports why they are at this point in the life of their business.

95-99% of their volume was in entry level scopes. Even with revenue from the higher end scopes, it was never a significant addition to their overall picture, especially considering the costs associated with maintaining the production of high end scopes. One could argue the revenue contribution of the high end scopes, but they were dwarfed by the volume and any money they made was obviously not enough make a difference in the end.

Since everyone likes pretty pictures, I will give you 2 graphs with the supporting data. It is very telling. First is a graph of their volume sales percentages over the past 10 years, broken down between entry level and advanced telescopes (per their 10-K). Following that (in the next message) is the same graph with the comparative revenue percentages added in. Finally, in a 3rd message, I added the data table supporting the graphs:

Attached Files


 

#991 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:54 PM

Here is the same graph with the comparative revenue percentages added in for Advanced and Entry Level.

Attached Files


 

#992 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

Here is the data table supporting the previous graphs:

Attached Files


 

#993 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:59 PM

With Advanced net sales barely cracking 1/3 the total (when sales were lowest), and staying mostly in the teens to low twenties, I would have a hard time arguing the importance of Meade's advanced line to their business model.

As a footnote, in 2008, Meade also received a qualified auditor's opinion as to a going concern.
 

#994 nitegeezer

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:06 PM

So I understand the volume numbers except 2008 where something was strange, but other than that they add up to 100% within round-off error.

The net sales don't add to anything near 100%. What are these numbers supposed to mean? It can't be dollars as an M multiplier seems too high and a K multiplier way too low.
 

#995 starrancher

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:17 PM

So ....In light of all this . where do you draw the line on what it considered an entry level scope ? What is considered an advanced scope ? And what about mid range equipment ? Where is that in the mix ? Was the long lost LXD75 line to be considered entry level ? Advanced ? Is entry just 60mm toy store stuff ? Where and how does or can it fit into the midst ?
 

#996 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:17 PM

The sales won't add up to 100% because there were sales in other areas, as well (weather stations, binoculars, rifle scopes, and accessories). However, their total volume was below 1%, so they do not necessarily show up in the rounded volume numbers.
 

#997 starrancher

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:23 PM

Is a Plossl an entry level eyepiece ? I've heard it refered to as such , mostly I think by sales people that rely on commission and then that terminogy spreads as fact . But what does it say when very experienced users acclaim the so called entry level ocular as a highly regarded price of equipment ?
 

#998 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:23 PM

So ....In light of all this . where do you draw the line on what it considered an entry level scope ? What is considered an advanced scope ? And what about mid range equipment ? Where is that in the mix ? Was the long lost LXD75 line to be considered entry level ? Advanced ? Is entry just 60mm toy store stuff ? Where and how does or can it fit into the midst ?


Meade drew the line, not me. Meade did this every year in their annual reports (10-K's). This is Meade's delineation that they have used pretty consistently from year to year. The entry level scopes include the 60mm toy stuff and the entry ETX lines (as I recall the ETX 125 was included in the Advanced Series). When the Lightspeed series came out, they put that into entry level.

As I recall from the 10-K's (and you can look all of this up), the LXD's were included in the Advanced Series. The actual details of what was included is listed in each annual report.
 

#999 bicparker

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:25 PM

Is a Plossl an entry level eyepiece ? I've heard it refered to as such , mostly I think by sales people that rely on commission and then that terminogy spreads as fact . But what does it say when very experienced users acclaim the so called entry level ocular as a highly regarded price of equipment ?


Eyepieces were included in the accessories unless they were sold with a scope, in all likelihood. In which case, they would be classified with the scope's category.
 

#1000 ColoHank

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 02:27 PM

A lot of manufacturers go under because they think they're in the business of making and selling widgets -- telescopes in the case of Meade. In reality, a business's principal aim should be to please its customers. Everything else is subsidiary. For Meade, the making and selling of competent products simply should have been a means to build a loyal and enthusiastic customer base.
 






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