One of the eyebrow raising events in amateur astronomy was the Orion law suit against the mainland China manufacturers for price fixing and other restrictive practices. Orion, you may recall, actually put all the materials up on the web, including stuff they had obtained through subpoena.
Of particular note was that the major Chinese firms had very specific agreements about the different segments of the market. Skywatcher was "assigned" the higher end higher quality market. ES was considered a low cost low quality competitor with a residual market share.
This is partly true.
I am privy to the law suite against Orion and Celestron and have a little more background on it than others (less said the better).
Neither Orion, nor Celestron (the two "sisters' family business" as it is known to us) owns the ES brand (Synta does not own it - JOC did it earlier, and now JourneyNorth from AK does). Bresser was the low-cost carrier, that parent company decided to upgrade into ES. I would consider ES to be at the same quality parallels with Orion and Skywatcher.
Skywatcher is now owned by Orion and shares same quality benchmarks with Orion. So Skywatcher being better than others is not true (anymore). The big difference is in the quality of support. This is where Skywatcher excelled, and Orion failed big time. Even today, Orion would not entertain you unless you are the original buyer - absolutely zero support (they won't even give replacement parts if you want to purchase them). When you indirectly force people to buy new products on one hand, and take over the market by buying brands on the other hand, you are ensuring that you always win no matter who people buy from.
Not that ES quality is the best, but some lines are better than others. All their CF scopes are well made. The 3" hex focusers are solid (and can be tuned to give you the buttery travel you are used to with FT).
I worry about more and more US brands such as Losmandy, Stellarvue, Televue, AP - for failing to consumerize their quality to amateur level and capturing the large market. I strongly believe that even today, if Paramount or AP decides to release a mount in $3K range - they will capture the Losmandy market and will be a strong competition to iOptron.
This market is so fickle and ready for disruption by newcomers such as Unistellar, Rainbow Astro (Korea) - that a brand like Unistellar (with right pricing and marketing strategy) can kill the rest of the so-called "premium" American brands. If things stay the status quo - I see a number of American brands to wind-up their operations in the next three to five years (or even sooner). It sounds harsh, and sad (personally, I feel bad) - but we all have a collective voice on this forum, and we should use that to support American brands (no doubt). However, equal responsibility lies with the brands themselves. If they isolate themselves to the niche, top-dollar market, they will be squeezed by Orions of the world from one side, and Unistellars on the new-age side.
Edited by Surfinash, Today, 01:01 PM.