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Equipment Discussions >> Cats & Casses

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mark379
sage
*****

Reged: 02/07/09

Loc: New Jersey
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5971920 - 07/15/13 09:49 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




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...


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Cotts
Just Wondering
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Reged: 10/10/05

Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EFT]
      #5971986 - 07/15/13 10:41 AM

Quote:

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


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5972006 - 07/15/13 10:56 AM

Quote:

I'm not a baby boomer, for example.

-Rich



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


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5972008 - 07/15/13 10:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

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.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EFT]
      #5972125 - 07/15/13 12:07 PM

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


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EFT]
      #5972201 - 07/15/13 01:01 PM

Quote:



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


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5972241 - 07/15/13 01:25 PM

Quote:

Quote:



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.


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EFT]
      #5972285 - 07/15/13 01:40 PM

Quote:

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


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gnowellsct
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/24/09

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5972398 - 07/15/13 02:28 PM

Quote:


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


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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5972449 - 07/15/13 02:53 PM Attachment (15 downloads)

Quote:

Quote:


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:


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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5972453 - 07/15/13 02:54 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

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

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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5972455 - 07/15/13 02:55 PM Attachment (9 downloads)

Here is the data table supporting the previous graphs:

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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5972467 - 07/15/13 02:59 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.


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nitegeezer
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/27/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5972484 - 07/15/13 03:06 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.


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: nitegeezer]
      #5972504 - 07/15/13 03:17 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 ?

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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: nitegeezer]
      #5972505 - 07/15/13 03:17 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.

Edited by bicparker (07/15/13 03:19 PM)


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: starrancher]
      #5972512 - 07/15/13 03:23 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 ?

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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: starrancher]
      #5972513 - 07/15/13 03:23 PM

Quote:

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.


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bicparker
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/07/05

Loc: Texas Hill Country
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: starrancher]
      #5972516 - 07/15/13 03:25 PM

Quote:

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.


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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5972517 - 07/15/13 03:27 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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