Thread: 2008 isonic's
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Old 25th May 2007, 06:29 AM   #20
Ian Fox
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 533
Default RE: 2008 isonic's

Hi Geo,

Well known adage "if you're standing still, you're going backwards".

It's a complex discussion, with many valid perspectives, and in the end the result is more like water finding an overall level than just in one corner...

Our history - and commitment - of NOT introducing a new model on every version, every year across our range is well documented. (Carve 99, old now but probably the best ever example - at the time a major market leader). Within reason, we make only moderate graphic or color changes within models year to year (iSonic, classic example).
Finding the balance between retained ownership value (or perceived value) in aging models and yet satisfying new model customers with a new look is a very difficult - but measured -decision.

One major factor is we release new boards so customers may choose to buy them if they wish.
No one is compelled or required to buy anything or upgrade if they do not want to.
On average use (note : average) a board will last an average user 2-3 seasons,
so (on average) no mechanical reason to upgrade every year.

[Yes, I also understand the point that you - or me - may really prefer a shape from earlier years (PA80), but when the time comes to replace, that exact version is not in production any longer.
That is in itself potentially not good, but also the same in just about all aspects of life.]

And I (maybe surprisingly) share the "familiarity" complex ; that is, one often naturally feels more "at home" on what they are used to, what had previously been determined through much careful analysis and lots of trial & error to by the "favorite" or "best ever". Like a lot of people, change for change sake alone does not seem so attractive.
~ Many examples exist of being well in tune with "older" equipment being a more competitive solution than one being unfamiliar (and un-tuned) on new, more competitive equipment. However, in time the familiarity with the new equipment kicks in, the overall performance rises to an even higher level. Of course, one can always argue an exception.

We are, at this moment, in the grip of "slalom fever" worldwide in our sport. Demand for the products is high, and whether one manufacturer freezes design or not, the overall (not one manufacturer) worldwide race for development goes on overall. And like water finding its level, the market will see/feel/witness the progress. We (in Starboard) certainly can't stop that, even if we wanted or tried to.

Competition improves the breed.

And not just on the racecourse. Inside our development, old boards compete with newer designs and concepts. Sometimes they win and go forward, only when the advance is fully verified. Often - very often - we do not see a worthwhile overall improvement, and often a new design does not go forward. And that is only at development level, not public view, or retail level. Our yards and garages are filled with rejected expensive custom one-off protos that never ended up progressing. We chop, we cut, we grind like never before. Like Edison, a lot can still be learnt from what doesn't work. In FW alone, for one upgrade of a single size/model, I stopped counting at 18 (!) protos in one year cycle. Our ability to improve is ultimately judged in public - if we send forward a worse design than previous, harsh and open criticism will be our reward and a commercial success is unlikely to follow. Alternately, if we get it right, the water flows more in our direction and the effort/investment/commitment (business as well as mental) pays dividend.

It is a competitive market and customers choose as they wish.

We choose to make our chance at success by leading, rather than following.

Cheers ~ Ian

Agree, the F1 example is extreme, but to easily show the point.
KP, A2 and the rest race almost exclusively on ISAF registered series production boards. It is the same design you- or anyone- can buy at the local surfshop, unlike your Ferrari dealer. So in windsurf, the customer is closer to the real thing than automotive. But if we ask Kevin or Antoine to race last years designs next year, the reaction will be just like Kimi.

Your Sonic 95 choice was based on it being a stabilised, mature, evolved design - some 3 (public) generations old. This August, we will present the 3rd (public) generation of iSonics. No, there won't be any radical changes. Yes, there will be a mature, honed evolution.
And in the end, the choice is with the individual.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Ian Fox is offline   Reply With Quote