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Chronology of a New Ham Radio Release

Part of any new radio release is a treasure-trove of commentary on the new radio’s email reflector. This is a summary of those topics so when you order your new radio you can recognize some of these common patterns. I started this with the Icom 9700 and it has been true for every new radio since then.

  • Discussion if the rumored radio will actually be sold and when.
  • General hand-wring regarding the vendor’s included/missing features.
  • Consternation regarding how long it is taking to release anything.
  • The inevitable price guessing (and first round of retail economics and pricing strategies with a side of currency exchange issues).
  • The first round of commentary based on the aforementioned speculated price as to why “The old model will do me just fine, thank you” or “That is too much for that style radio so I will not buy that” with no discussion if the writer actually could afford one.
  • The first lull in activity as people seem resolved to wait patiently (a very short lull).
  • First hamfest sightings which then cause the cycle to repeat after lambasting the temerity of the videographer to not show the exact feature others wanted to see.
  • More discussion of price as the dealers start to take reservations.
  • Speculation if one should buy a so-called gray market radio (i.e., buy a radio for the US market in the UK/Japan/EU and modify it). This is always coupled with another round of currency valuation discussions where people attempt to equate the price strictly on the current exchange rate without regards to local market dynamics that really set a price.
  • US market price announcements by varying dealers couple with another round of pricing discussions that frequently including basic retail economics discussions like overhead (or lecturing some on why they are not considering overhead). These discussions show a population subset that will never be happy with a price unless the manufacture sent them one for free to keep forever.
  • First orders converted from reservations take place, which starts a general discussion on why one’s dealer can take orders before another.
  • Debates about how many items arrived in a pallet when pictures of cardboard boxes are shared. Detailed discussion of packing systems including how many units are packed in a box.
  • First customer ship with a barrage of list traffic stating “Ordered mine today”.
  • Rigs start to arrive coupled with a few unboxing YouTube videos again lambasting the videographer for not showing specific features.
  • Discussions of the features as people learn about the radios and the naysayers stating, “The old model did it better so I will keep my old one”. One has to see the separate psychology paper on the thought process of how one dismisses a new model for the old when for some, buying the new one was not really in the cards anyway. One theory is it’s a way for one to justify to themselves their inability to buy a new one so casting aspersions on the newer model makes them feel better.
  • Barrage of reports stating “My radio arrived today” emails to various lists.
  • As more shipments arrive and operational limitations arise, a voracious discussion why feature A or B was included or left out. Another round of discussions on the economics of manufacturer scope decisions as a function of pricing in the desired market. Much input from retired experts that used to manage something similar for XYZ Corp.
  • The resident and highly valued test engineers run the new radio through its paces. These results are interpreted by the masses as either confirmation of the aforementioned biases towards the old radios compared to the new one or serve to confirm one’s decision to be an early adopter. Frequently another round of discussions about the need for a specific feature starts again.
  • The testing phase is closely coupled with countless discussions on the specifications of a feature that perhaps one in 1000 users of the new radio will ever use (i.e., setting the DSTAR position of a 9700 that never leaves the shack with a GPS versus simply entering in one’s non-changing Lat/Long manually). This highlights the point that the fact that a feature will not be used by most does not mean it cannot be debated ad infinitum.
  • The population generally settles down until the first radios have the inevitable failures of a few. Chastising those deemed foolish to be early adopters commences with the naysayers relishing in a ubiquitous round of “I told you so” and “This is why I wait to buy”.
  • First round of price drops with again another shot at the early adopters and then some lamenting they feel robbed that they paid 100 currency units more for a radio and their dealers are awful for not refunding the difference 6 months after the fact.

All the while, the various moderators of the lists try to weigh a careful balance of letting the group have their discussions and deciding when to shut down a discussion. Also note that these are not absolute rules. It is possible that one can raise a topic late in the game about currency exchange rates and prices (see active R&L Discussion on 9700 mailing list).

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