Author Topic: Let's talk about inflation  (Read 2136 times)

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Offline gnho

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Let's talk about inflation
« on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 13:34:47 »
I was looking for the original GB post for Exent in 2017 and surprised that it was sold around $200. And it was one of the most exciting GBs of the year.

This really prompted me to make a post to discuss about inflation, flipping, and the concept of "investment." Are these trends actually good for the community?

There are some clear benefits in the short run. The increased price means that more money is coming into the community, which will incentivize better products and services. Most people can sell what they don't like fairly quickly in the secondary market. It is a great thing that there's a lot of liquidity in the market/community.

However, I can see there are also a few problems.

1. The whole setup encourages scalping. This includes not only those with the sole intention of making money but people joining the GB or buy the product casually without thinking about whether they actually like the product. All these dynamics mean that many products are not actually priced accurately.

2. We seem to equate the price of the product with the status/contribution of the designer. To hit a home run means to create the most premium/expensive keyboard possible, not to invent a product that shape the evolution of keyboard. Sometimes I wonder whether there was more innovation back in the day because there wasn't a need to put everything in a brick of pricey metal.

3. The whole market benefits those with more cash flow and are not friendly to people with modest means. Let them eat TOFU, one can say. But I wonder how we can make the community more inclusive/accessible. To be clear, I would classify myself in the former group, making low six fig.

I would really love to know what y'all are thinking about these trends!


Offline rxc92

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 19:26:42 »
Premium markets are inherently not supposed to be inclusive. This community is already very inclusive by having people with $70 budget boards as well as those with $7,000 plus in various boards/materials in the same forum. 
 
That said, I'm also turned off by the group buy trends. Because every group buy, to attract interest, has to stick out in some way compared to the many made in the past, it can often just becomes a rooster measuring contest where functionally meaningless changes are added to simply drive up the price and make things seem more premium (and therefore worth the inflating prices); Keycult's blatant moneygrubbing is by far the worst example. 
 
On the other hand, innovations are being made and more expensive features are becoming more commonplace. I haven't kept much into GBs over the years but gasket mount is an interesting new thing that changes the boards significantly while not imparting huge costs. 

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 20:03:21 »

products are not actually priced accurately.


We live in something resembling a free market economy. Therefore, by definition, the "accurate" price is what the buyer is willing to pay the seller, and the seller is willing to accept, today.

Anything else is either wishful or remorseful thinking.
 
The difference in characterization of crime and who commits it skews what criminality looks like demographically. "What we're seeing so far is very similar to the process that we see with Islamic violent Jihad radicalization," said former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, "This wanting to belong to a cause greater than yourself, wanting to get affirmation from a group who may not even know who you are or ever met you. And then feeling like you're part of this deployment, this cause. You heard him say on the clip 'It's my job to protect this.'
No, it's not your job. But you think it is. And video last night shows him walking around roaming around with the assault rifle not really doing much of protecting anything." Figliuzzi made it clear that calling these characters "troubled" is a misnomer. "I would assert," Figliuzzi continued. "that it's time we stopped using the word ‘troubled’ with regard to white young people who act out like this and start thinking about the radicalized term that we used when people of color or people of Islamic faith act out like this. This is a radicalization process that's happening. It happened with the El Paso shooter in Texas. We kept hearing he was troubled. No, he was radicalized. And it's happening online."

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 20:05:34 »
Here's an example, because I was thinking about inflation in the keyboard market just a couple of days ago: I bought GMK Carbon* on whim via Massdrop (so possibly a bit cheaper than going market rates) back in 2016.

$105 for a set that's extensive enough for a full size keyboard. In 2020 money, accounting for inflation, that is $112.

I just did a comparison with Modern Dolch. The equivalent kit (base, numbers, ISO coverage) would be 100+30+35=$165.

That's an increase of 47% over 4 years.

I'm guessing that a difference in pricing would be the distribution channel- the separately located global vendors won't be as cost effective as Massdrop. But still, it's the group buy, 'money down and wait a load of months model', so that's constant.

Does anyone have an idea of what a comparable (i.e. a 'fancy' set, not something like BoW/WoB) would go for on Massdrop these days?

I'm also fairly turned off the current group buy trends. Almost every keycap GB has to be GMK, which at today's prices brings them out of the 'whimsical buy' pricing range for me. The vast majority of keyboard sets are milled aluminum and have been shaped by market interest to mostly look exactly the same, and to have almost exactly the same features, and to use almost exactly the same layouts.

Still, given that the market seems to have grown a lot, this still means that even though 'mainstream' has become boring, there is more space for creative and interesting stuff. I am personally intrigued by the southpaw designs that are coming out, as well as the ergo designs which didn't really exist 5 years ago. And with the explosion of popularity in keycaps, there are lots of readily available cheaper options on the Chinese market. The ergo market is also big enough to have a decent range of choice these days (though the really interesting stuff remains largely DIY).

Compared to some other hobbies, inflation with keyboards has been pretty mild. Anyone into audio/headphones has probably seen much faster rates.


* On a related note, turns out that I don't really care if I'm using a 'high end' keycap set or not. I can appreciate the GMK set, but it never replaced the Tai Hao set on my work keyboard. The GMK ended up on a keyboard which I gave to a family member.

Edit: Hey, I just remembered. You can get $70 barebones boards these days with hot swap sockets. Stuff like this is great. With stuff like this happening, who cares if some impressionable buyer who spends too much time on Instagram wants to drop $400 on generic aluminum casing?

« Last Edit: Tue, 30 June 2020, 22:40:43 by jamster »

Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 20:13:30 »

products are not actually priced accurately.


We live in something resembling a free market economy. Therefore, by definition, the "accurate" price is what the buyer is willing to pay the seller, and the seller is willing to accept, today.

Anything else is either wishful or remorseful thinking.
Yeah I understand supply and demand. It's not that simple. By this logic there are no such things as bubbles. My question here is whether the current market is indeed efficient and productive to the growth of community and beneficial to its members.

There are many "builders" in the community and I'm just curious about what kind of community people want to build.

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Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 22:57:17 »

products are not actually priced accurately.


We live in something resembling a free market economy. Therefore, by definition, the "accurate" price is what the buyer is willing to pay the seller, and the seller is willing to accept, today.

Anything else is either wishful or remorseful thinking.
Yeah I understand supply and demand. It's not that simple. By this logic there are no such things as bubbles. My question here is whether the current market is indeed efficient and productive to the growth of community and beneficial to its members.

There are many "builders" in the community and I'm just curious about what kind of community people want to build.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

I think the "community" diverged into very different directions years ago.

Look just at Geehkack- there seem to be discrete groups of users when it comes to subforums- general chat stuff, DIY, and IC/GB. The IC/GB threads have lots of newer accounts with low post counts and a habit of making short posts in only those sub forums. And then they rarely actually seem to review the products they buy, but presumably keep buying more stuff?

I've not seen this behaviour evolve any other in forum which I've frequented (mostly other tech or outdoor sports forums).  People who buy stuff tend to provide feedback, criticisms, or commentary on their equipment.

Edits- lots of bloody typos:
« Last Edit: Wed, 01 July 2020, 02:17:10 by jamster »

Offline envyy24

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 08:08:31 »
I don't like this trend in mech keeb community anymore than the next person, but i have to say there is absolutely nothing we can do. This is free market pretty much, and when there is demand (people with money and willing to pay premium and they really really, did I say really? because they really want that certain product) there will be supply (flippers in this case).

Offline Pylon

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 12:56:16 »
I bought GMK Carbon* on whim via Massdrop (so possibly a bit cheaper than going market rates) back in 2016.

$105 for a set that's extensive enough for a full size keyboard. In 2020 money, accounting for inflation, that is $112.

I just did a comparison with Modern Dolch. The equivalent kit (base, numbers, ISO coverage) would be 100+30+35=$165.


Not a totally accurate comparison, since breaking out numpad and ISO into separate kits inherently makes the equivalent complete kit more expensive. GMK WoB and GMK Taro R2 both include numpad and ISO support in their base kit, and the base kit goes for $110.

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 13:38:57 »
I bought GMK Carbon* on whim via Massdrop (so possibly a bit cheaper than going market rates) back in 2016.

$105 for a set that's extensive enough for a full size keyboard. In 2020 money, accounting for inflation, that is $112.

I just did a comparison with Modern Dolch. The equivalent kit (base, numbers, ISO coverage) would be 100+30+35=$165.


Not a totally accurate comparison, since breaking out numpad and ISO into separate kits inherently makes the equivalent complete kit more expensive. GMK WoB and GMK Taro R2 both include numpad and ISO support in their base kit, and the base kit goes for $110.

Hmm, using Modern Dolch just because it's on the first Group Buy page and it's a very popular 'classic' set like Carbon, that starts at $100 for the base. Taro including numbad and ISO seems like an very good deal.

I'd deliberately not included WoB because that seems to have been created specifically as an 'affordable' bare bones set.
« Last Edit: Wed, 01 July 2020, 13:41:08 by jamster »

Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 13:46:31 »
Yeah I think there's absolutely nothing we can do about people who just want to pay $4,000 for a limited edition. I honestly don't care much about them. However, I think we can think about how we can maybe be more pro-consumers when talking with people who are new to the community. Calling out cases where the price is not reasonable or there's no clear value proposition. Doing some blind tests on the latest hype. There's so much information asymmetry going on in this community. Many of the features are like to be snake oil.

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 13:55:06 »
People are going to want all sorts of different things. If they want to purchase a feeling of shiny exclusivity, that's their choice to make, I don't think anyone needs to 'educate' them beyond pointing out that alternatives exist. But if someone is determined to drop a lot of money on a board, it's a bit like collecting expensive Magic the Gathering cards- it's no longer about the game or using the tool, it's about the collecting.

I mean, it's just keyboards. These are not esoteric machines- it's pretty clear cut what they do, you can't really apply snake oil convincingly like you can in other markets (high end audio springs to mind, that's one big ball of crazy).
« Last Edit: Wed, 01 July 2020, 13:57:06 by jamster »

Offline envyy24

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 16:06:11 »
People are going to want all sorts of different things. If they want to purchase a feeling of shiny exclusivity, that's their choice to make, I don't think anyone needs to 'educate' them beyond pointing out that alternatives exist. But if someone is determined to drop a lot of money on a board, it's a bit like collecting expensive Magic the Gathering cards- it's no longer about the game or using the tool, it's about the collecting.

I mean, it's just keyboards. These are not esoteric machines- it's pretty clear cut what they do, you can't really apply snake oil convincingly like you can in other markets (high end audio springs to mind, that's one big ball of crazy).

Yes that is true, anyone who dislike the current trend in this hobby should be an advocate for a non-flipping toxic environment. I totally agree, as if this keeps going then it will be next to impossible to enjoy something due to bot and flippers just eat up supply instantly.

Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 16:14:30 »
People are going to want all sorts of different things. If they want to purchase a feeling of shiny exclusivity, that's their choice to make, I don't think anyone needs to 'educate' them beyond pointing out that alternatives exist. But if someone is determined to drop a lot of money on a board, it's a bit like collecting expensive Magic the Gathering cards- it's no longer about the game or using the tool, it's about the collecting.

I mean, it's just keyboards. These are not esoteric machines- it's pretty clear cut what they do, you can't really apply snake oil convincingly like you can in other markets (high end audio springs to mind, that's one big ball of crazy).

I think this is being unkind to the marketing skills of various GBs, many try to convince how this keyboard is different or superior so you're not crazy to drop hundreds (more) on it and wait for a year. Some don't, to be clear. And some do it more implicitly.

Yeah I'm perfectly fine with people drop insane money, having purchased a beamspring this year myself. I just feel that there are some unhealthy trends that are on the surface benign but steering the community from social engagement to just transactions.

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 01 July 2020, 20:27:52 »
Yes that is true, anyone who dislike the current trend in this hobby should be an advocate for a non-flipping toxic environment. I totally agree, as if this keeps going then it will be next to impossible to enjoy something due to bot and flippers just eat up supply instantly.

I don't think that flipping is good anywhere, but don't take particular issue with it in the mech board hobby. What gets flipped- as far as I'm aware, it's only the fashionable small-production stuff, which is sold on cosmetics and exclusivity. You can still access underlying technologies or build methods via other products which are not quite as desperately sought after.

Want to try gasket mount? Every second GB case seems to use gasket mount. Want a particular GMK colourway? Personally I don't care- I mean, I like particular colourways but don't regard them an essential part of the keyboard experience. When you touch-type, all GMK keysets are the same. I'm looking at my screen when I type, not at the keyboard.

The really interesting, creative, quirky stuff, that doesn't seem to be in-demand enough for flipping. The magnetic-mount board that's going through an IC now, that's an amazing idea. The various southpaw designs, the weird split ergo designs, this is the stuff that is much closer to unique (or at least, not practically the same as several other products), and I don't think they're being scalped because people don't want unique, they usually seem to want pretty.

Edit: I just thought of a quick and dirty test. If you can't readily tell the difference between it and a comparable product with your eyes closed, then those two things are basically substitute goods within the keyboard niche. This is obviously rough, it doesn't account for long term reliability differences, or the ability to reprogram keys, but it's one way to look at it.
« Last Edit: Thu, 02 July 2020, 02:52:59 by jamster »

Offline envyy24

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 02 July 2020, 03:05:10 »
Yes that is true, anyone who dislike the current trend in this hobby should be an advocate for a non-flipping toxic environment. I totally agree, as if this keeps going then it will be next to impossible to enjoy something due to bot and flippers just eat up supply instantly.

I don't think that flipping is good anywhere, but don't take particular issue with it in the mech board hobby. What gets flipped- as far as I'm aware, it's only the fashionable small-production stuff, which is sold on cosmetics and exclusivity. You can still access underlying technologies or build methods via other products which are not quite as desperately sought after.

Want to try gasket mount? Every second GB case seems to use gasket mount. Want a particular GMK colourway? Personally I don't care- I mean, I like particular colourways but don't regard them an essential part of the keyboard experience. When you touch-type, all GMK keysets are the same. I'm looking at my screen when I type, not at the keyboard.

The really interesting, creative, quirky stuff, that doesn't seem to be in-demand enough for flipping. The magnetic-mount board that's going through an IC now, that's an amazing idea. The various southpaw designs, the weird split ergo designs, this is the stuff that is much closer to unique (or at least, not practically the same as several other products), and I don't think they're being scalped because people don't want unique, they usually seem to want pretty.

Edit: I just thought of a quick and dirty test. If you can't readily tell the difference between it and a comparable product with your eyes closed, then those two things are basically substitute goods within the keyboard niche. This is obviously rough, it doesn't account for long term reliability differences, or the ability to reprogram keys, but it's one way to look at it.

While i have not particularly been a victim of flipping culture, i have seen many people in various community that I am in speak up about it and how ridiculous it is right now. Most recently the nk65. Tbh I have no idea what even was the nk65 but seeing people were very excited about it because it looks good and the price range is perfect for someone who just move on from their stock keyboard etc, I can feel the frustration too when the thing just vaporized in 30 seconds and in a few months they will flood the market again being 2x, 3x the original price.

And this behavior is spreading to even the vint market too, which is the frustrating stuff to me personally. Back in 2019 I could buy a dell at101 for 20 quids. Now? Yeah good luck with getting it under 50. Model M range was about 50 too, and now people just shoot it up to 100. No reason. Just because someone on reddit priced it that way therefore they need to slap 10% over the last sell and thing just keep piling up.

You may feel disdain about how most people want to go after look when functionality + creativity get overlooked, fine. Other people are in it for the beauty. Nothing wrong with that, and flipping culture still prevent them from enjoying those products. And in my book, **** that is not right.

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 02 July 2020, 03:26:06 »
Another thread made me think about out my own criteria for assessing keyboards (https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=107118.msg2927155#msg2927155), and against those criteria, I personally don't see much difference beween the NK65 and something like a GMMK Compact. Both are small, both are hotswap. Maybe the GMMK lacks key remapping?

When I type, I don't look at my keyboard. I have certain preferences- I don't like low profile cases (no particular reason why), or a board or caps that are so ugly that it would distract from looking at a monitor.

And this behavior is spreading to even the vint market too, which is the frustrating stuff to me personally. Back in 2019 I could buy a dell at101 for 20 quids. Now? Yeah good luck with getting it under 50. Model M range was about 50 too, and now people just shoot it up to 100. No reason. Just because someone on reddit priced it that way therefore they need to slap 10% over the last sell and thing just keep piling up.

I honestly do not see a problem with this. My last Model M purchase was for twenty pounds plus shipping in the UK. They're a lot more expensive now, but not because people are trying to profiteer off them- it's because so many people got into mechanical keyboards, and some proportion of them became aware of and can appreciate the characteristics of buckling spring and old school manufacturing. I think they're about a hundred US these days... that seems reasonably priced to me, for a feel that's impossible to replicate by most manfacturers (other than Unicomp, obviously).

My own Model Ms... even if they went up to $300 each, I would not be at all inclined to sell them. I might not be tempted to buy at that price, but I wouldn't sell.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 02 July 2020, 12:03:15 »
The issue, as I see it, is the market allows for this to happen:

User A
Buy Item for 300 plus some other fees.  Says 330.
Sells to User B for
330 + shipping + fees.  Say 360.
User B sells item for 370 + shipping + fees, say 410. 

And over and over and over.  The market is supporting there to be no depreciation on any of the items even though they're used and people have an incentive to buy things  because in some cases they bought for 120 and sold it for 200. 

Years ago I thought with better stock keyboards with quality cases, etc coming out, the market would start to shift a bit but that really hasn't happened...There are some older Korean Customs that are ridiculously priced now even though they might be objectively worse than newer ones today.  Exclusivity?   There is some of that...but that doesn't explain some of the pricing we see.  I can only guess there was a flood of newcomers because there was a period a few years ago where keyboard and keycap pricing went crazy..and since then there have been more newcomers than the old supply could support.   I don't want to say it is a bit of a bubble..but will pricing drop eventually? Where used equipment is actually sold as used?  Probably at some point.  When that happens it'll be curious to see what happens to the aftermarket.

On the plus side...unless you want some very niche devices..you can get some really good keyboards with quality parts for a lot less than you used to.  The variety is huge compared to what it used to be.   

 

Online Sup

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 02 July 2020, 13:00:57 »
You can't do anything about this. To much demand and not enough spots. One limits a GB for 50 units and there are 800 people trying to join the GB. The ones that are lucky can choose there price at that point because one of the 800 people is rich as hell and doesn't care if he overpays. The community growing since the Tfue,Taehaetype hype is attracting new people doesn't help as well with after prices. 

Scalpers where already a problem with GB's people joining raffles to just flip it straight on Mech market but since the big grow i see so many more scalpers on mech market selling a lot of high end unbuild boards for twice or three times the original price. This made me think if i ever have to sell something i will do it at scalper prices since someone else will flip it eventually. Sad reality but this is how the community became when it left the niche stage.
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Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 02 July 2020, 16:07:07 »
You can't do anything about this. To much demand and not enough spots. One limits a GB for 50 units and there are 800 people trying to join the GB. The ones that are lucky can choose there price at that point because one of the 800 people is rich as hell and doesn't care if he overpays. The community growing since the Tfue,Taehaetype hype is attracting new people doesn't help as well with after prices. 

Scalpers where already a problem with GB's people joining raffles to just flip it straight on Mech market but since the big grow i see so many more scalpers on mech market selling a lot of high end unbuild boards for twice or three times the original price. This made me think if i ever have to sell something i will do it at scalper prices since someone else will flip it eventually. Sad reality but this is how the community became when it left the niche stage.

Yeah but what we can tell newcomers is that the price doesn't reflect any particular quality about the board except there are not many of them. In fact, this one of the biggest beef I have... people cannot explain why a board is sold >$1000 other than it's rare and there's a demand for it. If the reason that you are willing to pay top dollar for something is that you believe someone else will be willing to pay the same or more to buy from you, this is the textbook definition of a bubble.

What is SAD about Tfue is that the design is about how we can make a keyboard as expensive as possible. It's really a shame that what represents the state of the art of this community is not a Tesla but a golden toilet.




Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 03 July 2020, 07:35:16 »
The issue, as I see it, is the market allows for this to happen:

User A
Buy Item for 300 plus some other fees.  Says 330.
Sells to User B for
330 + shipping + fees.  Say 360.
User B sells item for 370 + shipping + fees, say 410. 

And over and over and over.  The market is supporting there to be no depreciation on any of the items even though they're used and people have an incentive to buy things  because in some cases they bought for 120 and sold it for 200. 

This isn't necessarily an unreasonable practice. If we're talking group buy keyboards, these things come with practically no warranty anyway (that I'm aware of, certainly nothing legal?). It's a keyboard made of fairly solid materials, then the first buyer spends time populating it with decent quality parts which should last for a long time. It should lose no utility during the course of ownership, it's not like a car where the initial dealer warranty is important and then parts wear down and depreciate from the moment you turn the keys in the ignition the first time.

When it comes to the first buyer, he's also taken a big risk- lots of group buys face delays or outright failure, so it's arguable the the first transaction on the secondary market should factor in a premium.


Yeah but what we can tell newcomers is that the price doesn't reflect any particular quality about the board except there are not many of them. In fact, this one of the biggest beef I have... people cannot explain why a board is sold >$1000 other than it's rare and there's a demand for it. If the reason that you are willing to pay top dollar for something is that you believe someone else will be willing to pay the same or more to buy from you, this is the textbook definition of a bubble.

I think it's clearly obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that once you get into stratospheric pricing, money isn't buying additional quality. Anyone willing to spend that much money isn't likely to really be searching for quality as such, or even a particularly optimised typing experience. I've said it a couple of times recently, but they are buying something else, something intangible that just happens to appear to be keyboard-shaped to the rest of us.




Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 03 July 2020, 12:58:16 »

This isn't necessarily an unreasonable practice. If we're talking group buy keyboards, these things come with practically no warranty anyway (that I'm aware of, certainly nothing legal?). It's a keyboard made of fairly solid materials, then the first buyer spends time populating it with decent quality parts which should last for a long time. It should lose no utility during the course of ownership, it's not like a car where the initial dealer warranty is important and then parts wear down and depreciate from the moment you turn the keys in the ignition the first time.

When it comes to the first buyer, he's also taken a big risk- lots of group buys face delays or outright failure, so it's arguable the the first transaction on the secondary market should factor in a premium.


I get your thinking here. Now, we can all think about how these GBs are basically start-ups raising funds from venture capitalists. The participants take risk and get rewarded by doing so. But is this what we want the GBs to be?

One of the problems I see is that two logics or standards simultaneously exists. One is that we should be a community, understanding that GBs are difficult to run, delay is inevitable, people are doing their best, love, peace, altruism, and camaraderie. The second is that everything is transactional and rational, individual choice and responsibility, risk and reward. We have to be careful about when to apply which standard.

Yes, we can see everything from a perspective of self interest but I am not sure self interest is what drew me into this community at the first place. In fact, it's the opposite. People are really passionate about keyboards and want to share it with other people. This is perhaps why I hate the whole trends related to higher price and exclusivity.

Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 03 July 2020, 22:43:26 »

This isn't necessarily an unreasonable practice. If we're talking group buy keyboards, these things come with practically no warranty anyway (that I'm aware of, certainly nothing legal?). It's a keyboard made of fairly solid materials, then the first buyer spends time populating it with decent quality parts which should last for a long time. It should lose no utility during the course of ownership, it's not like a car where the initial dealer warranty is important and then parts wear down and depreciate from the moment you turn the keys in the ignition the first time.

When it comes to the first buyer, he's also taken a big risk- lots of group buys face delays or outright failure, so it's arguable the the first transaction on the secondary market should factor in a premium.


I get your thinking here. Now, we can all think about how these GBs are basically start-ups raising funds from venture capitalists. The participants take risk and get rewarded by doing so. But is this what we want the GBs to be?

One of the problems I see is that two logics or standards simultaneously exists. One is that we should be a community, understanding that GBs are difficult to run, delay is inevitable, people are doing their best, love, peace, altruism, and camaraderie. The second is that everything is transactional and rational, individual choice and responsibility, risk and reward. We have to be careful about when to apply which standard.

Yes, we can see everything from a perspective of self interest but I am not sure self interest is what drew me into this community at the first place. In fact, it's the opposite. People are really passionate about keyboards and want to share it with other people. This is perhaps why I hate the whole trends related to higher price and exclusivity.

Haha, GBs are not like venture capital investments, a VC is paid in equity and will look for a degree of control.

I have thought of GBs from a simple financial perspective of expected value. My finance classes are too far in the past so it could be misapplying the concept, but I figure in a big premium for risk. Chances of outright failure is reasonably high (not deliberate, but manufacturing and logistics is just horribly complex) and delays are more likely than not. I personally mentally add a 30% premium for frustration or just losing the money. As a result, I'm just not interested in the vast majority of group buys.

I think we're in agreement with the preference for community and passion, which is another aspect missing from run of the mill buys where people seem to buy stuff but never talk about it afterwards. I'm hoping to get into proper DIY soon (lack of 3D printing is something I'm currently trying to overcome) which is where I see more of the passion and curiosity that drew me into geekhack the first time round.

Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 03 July 2020, 23:18:29 »

Haha, GBs are not like venture capital investments, a VC is paid in equity and will look for a degree of control.

I have thought of GBs from a simple financial perspective of expected value. My finance classes are too far in the past so it could be misapplying the concept, but I figure in a big premium for risk. Chances of outright failure is reasonably high (not deliberate, but manufacturing and logistics is just horribly complex) and delays are more likely than not. I personally mentally add a 30% premium for frustration or just losing the money. As a result, I'm just not interested in the vast majority of group buys.

I think we're in agreement with the preference for community and passion, which is another aspect missing from run of the mill buys where people seem to buy stuff but never talk about it afterwards. I'm hoping to get into proper DIY soon (lack of 3D printing is something I'm currently trying to overcome) which is where I see more of the passion and curiosity that drew me into geekhack the first time round.

Interesting. I don't think the VC metaphor is that much of a stretch. ICs are what people use to encourage buy-ins. Various GBs threads also show that the buyers continue to give inputs along the process. On that note, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a representative of all buyers for each GB, to whom the GB runner should regularly update and discuss the business plan?  :):))

Now, I am not sure the added price in the aftermarket is risk premium. If this is true, we should see the markup to be lower for more established designers and higher for new designers. The reality is the opposite. I think most markups are driven by 1) artificial scarcity, 2) information asymmetry, and 3) hype promoted by influencers in the community. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but is there any high-end keyboard in the market that's not reproducible?


Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #23 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 00:06:51 »
The VC metaphor has been kicked around in discussions of the crowdfunding model for years now. The comparison breaks down pretty quickly- for a VC with an equity stake (and management control or influence) the upside is practically unlimited. In the crowdfunding world, the upsides is hard capped... a keyboard.

I've known or met people involved in the venture capital industry, and they are very, very savvy in their specific domains, very sharp, very demanding. People buying into group buys are not doing backround checks on the organisers, they are not asking questions about past performance and projects. Seems to me that most GB participants are unambitious optimists willing to throw money into the ether for a chance at an interesting trinket. That's certainly how I view my own rare engagements with Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

I agree that we're not seeing a price premium in group buys in terms of project risk, but that's because the market is not pure supply and demand. A lot of organisers don't seem to be in it for the money- they are not trying to build sustainable long term businesses. I suspect (and I could be talking out my ass here as I have no experience with this) that price is set mostly be production costs (CNC production is horribly inefficient, non-scalable and expensive) and also by what the regular/respected organisers are pricing at. There's simply enough demand that newcomers can set similar prices and still garner interest.

I don't think that there is artificial scarcity- again, CNC is inherently limiting. And because organisers are not running full time businesses, they are not set up to handle thousands of keyboard cases.

I also think that the idea of information asymmetry isn't applicable. Information asymmetry is more likely where there are a small number of highly dominant, highly organised firms and a market of relatively powerless buyers. With keyboards, there's a bunch of small scale organisers operating in in their spare time. The don't disclose their manufacturers or production costs, but this stuff isn't valuable information- you could go to somwhere like 3dhubs.com for comparable machine costs, and there are lots of PCB printing companies that will quote you.

Information on other current group buys is freely available, as is history of past buys. I think the only thing missing is that many buyers don't really ask hard questions, or factor in project risk. Maybe because they're naive in some cases, or maybe because several hundred dollars isn't considered a big enough amount to risk in the first place, it could just be play money. I'm a tight bastard, so I this kind of thinking is foreign to me, but I do suspect that this is play money for a lot of people.

The hype point I have no thoughts on... I don't do social media, and have no idea how keyboards are hyped these days. I'm curious as to why most people would find them objects worth of desire though, most people just aren't that geeky, and my interest in keyboards is a subject of amused tolerance within my own circles.
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 July 2020, 00:09:42 by jamster »

Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #24 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 01:13:23 »
But isn't the point that you can then resell the board in the secondary market for twice as much? Many make more than 50% return for an < 1 Yr investment. What a great deal?

When a board is being sold >$1,000 in the market, I am not sure manufacturing cost is an issue. If the organizers do not have the time to run it, I'm sure they can transfer/sell the IP to someone else or a full-time vendor who can profit from a re-run. Of course, mass production will immediately destroy the price of these boards as there is no extraordinary feature except scarcity.

About information asymmetry, I guess we have very different consumers in mind. I do not think the median consumer is that knowledgeable or as informed as you. You can tell by finding the most watched youtube videos about mechanical keyboards on Youtube. Many of the buyers are gamer or anime kids. A lot of "knowledge" in the community is hearsay. As you and other people have pointed out, nothing is objective.

I would love to hear what you think about this Youtube video with 4 million views:
t=673s  :cool:




Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 02:01:39 »
How common is it for these small production boards to appreciate hugely in value over time? I pay no attention to this part of the hobby. Still, any primary buyer is running a huge risk for most group buys- so many hit snags or go off the rails for years.

Manufacturing costs set a base/minimum price. There is no IP associated with these things, I don't think you could protect the shape of a case, especially across countries, and even if you could it would be beyond the resources of anyone making the cases.

I'd call your information asymmetry thing more of bunch of deliberately impressionable noobs... it's not anyone's responsibility to 'educate' them, people have the right to like what they want. More information is so easily available for anyone who wants it.

I'm kind of allergic to most Youtube reviews, don't think I can watch that one. Only reviewer I really watch much of is EEVblog :)  Hmm... this is probably one reason I'm so behind trends in the hobby.

Offline JCraftCables

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #26 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 05:29:53 »
Adding fuel to the fire, when GB boards hold/increase in value so well, people will become more willing to spend on more GBs even if the GB price is high and even if they don't plan to use the board. These items are becoming more like commodities rather than personal tools.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #27 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 07:50:48 »
The whole market benefits those with more cash flow and are not friendly to people with modest means. Let them eat TOFU, one can say. But I wonder how we can make the community more inclusive/accessible.


The modern reality is, only the Poor and Poorly-informed eat meat. /Google it

Little are people aware, Meat consumption is actually extremely toxic due to bioaccumulation of environmental pollutants, ontop of being the very source of the majority of modern disease through (zoonosis), HIV, Flu, Typhoid,Smallpox, Covid19, all came from animals.

Humans are actually mechanically 100% herbivores, we are only able to eat animal carcasses due to our technological interventions, fire for cooking, chlorinated water for cleaning, antibiotics for when meat makes us sick, etc. 70-80% of US produced antibiotics are fed to farm animals due to how disgustingly infested the growing conditions are.

So, really, TOFU is the ideal response to our health crisis.




Offline gnho

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #28 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 09:20:36 »
Adding fuel to the fire, when GB boards hold/increase in value so well, people will become more willing to spend on more GBs even if the GB price is high and even if they don't plan to use the board. These items are becoming more like commodities rather than personal tools.
Exactly... People are literally jumping into GBs believing that even if they don't like it they can still make money out of it.

GMK 9009 with all it's issues has been selling at a big premium in the aftermarket.




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Offline jamster

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #29 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 10:52:14 »
The pedant in me has to point out that the type of keyboards under discussion in this thread are the exact opposite of commodities.

Commodity keyboards would be the Dell that comes with a PC purchase, or possibly a generic RGB gaming keyboard.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #30 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 13:28:22 »
Pokemon cards are pretty worthless, just give it time.

Luxury brand items which hold value over the years, are ACTIVELY upheld by a continuous investment into their brand, for example Old-Mercedes which sell for $Millions.

There's no such upkeeping done for these spring-up overnight pokemon keyboards.  their value will not appreciate over the years, they'll fall into obscurity and become pretty much worthless.

Buy it because you like it, please don't buy keyboard gear thinking it's going to increase in value.   The opportunity cost is significantly worse than if you'd just played some Stonks.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Let's talk about inflation
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 04 July 2020, 13:46:37 »
The supply-demand equation is hard to predict into the future. In the decade or so I have been in this arena, I have watched some screwball bubbles play out.

Since I am mostly interested in IBM Model F and Alps SKCM keyboards, and since I am an old man, they last a very long time, and I have multiple specimens of the ones I like, I truly am "set for life" as long as nothing changes. Also, these are durable classics (the 1980s was an awful time for cars but a great time for keyboards) and with some peculiar exceptions they aren't making any more of them.

However, I could imagine a time when I seldom worked with numbers and could give up the numpad, and moved my keyboard around so that I would want something compact and lightweight and was modern USB (or whatever the future dictates) plug and play with no drama. Touch screen phones are impossible for me, so if something like a smart phone really did become the computer of the future I would still want to be able to plug a keyboard and monitor into it.
The difference in characterization of crime and who commits it skews what criminality looks like demographically. "What we're seeing so far is very similar to the process that we see with Islamic violent Jihad radicalization," said former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, "This wanting to belong to a cause greater than yourself, wanting to get affirmation from a group who may not even know who you are or ever met you. And then feeling like you're part of this deployment, this cause. You heard him say on the clip 'It's my job to protect this.'
No, it's not your job. But you think it is. And video last night shows him walking around roaming around with the assault rifle not really doing much of protecting anything." Figliuzzi made it clear that calling these characters "troubled" is a misnomer. "I would assert," Figliuzzi continued. "that it's time we stopped using the word ‘troubled’ with regard to white young people who act out like this and start thinking about the radicalized term that we used when people of color or people of Islamic faith act out like this. This is a radicalization process that's happening. It happened with the El Paso shooter in Texas. We kept hearing he was troubled. No, he was radicalized. And it's happening online."