Walt - Thanx for the Email. Sorry for the late reply, SHOT show & all. I thought to bring up the original thread so anyone new can see some of the history. I pretty much stayed off of this thread because it seemed to be a BM question, which I am not qualified to reply.
Lester and I go back to the pre Clipit days(1980). We are personal friends, allies, and also competitors. We do share our business problems, so I cannot speak for Benchmade.
I will however speak as a manufacturer of high quality knives and will share some views. I specify "High quality" because I do not see much discussion on cheap knives or knock offs.
Those of us that are involved in trying to make as good of a product as we can for you!
We have our product design, our product quality, our marketing and sales, we have our channels of distribution, we have our customer service. With these "platoons", we compete to please you, the ELU.
You vote with your dollars, you vote with your loyalty, you vote with your "word of mouth" communication.
We "Guess" at which way will work best in each area. Today's strategies may not have worked yesterday and they may not work tomorrow.
I can assure you that a manufacturer does not make radical changes when there are no problems. Refinements?, yes, improvements? yes, but radical changes? no. When radical changes are made, obviously someone was percieving problems that in their opinion required radical change. Be it in pricing, distribution method or designs.
you must also keep in mind that there was a goal. That goal influenced their direction. For you to ask the question, "Right or wrong?" implies that your goal was the same as theirs. Their solution may have served "their" goal, even if it didn't serve yours. To say whether or not they "learned their lesson" is to assume that they did not achieve "their" goal. Only time will tell. If the changes created did not create the goal desired, I can say that another solution will probably be attempted.
It is not a "war" between the manufacturer and the ELU, just difficulties in solving the myriad of problems. "Manufacturers are from Jupiter and ELUs are fom Saturn".
I believe it was well said by the president of Toyota, "The competition is never over. Even if you complete and win today, you must again compete tomorrow".
When we make the "right" choices, we reach our goals. When our choices prove to be "less effective" (wrong), we find a more effective solution or perish. Such is the "life and death" of business.
It is quite likely that the Internet will affect a great deal in human's world. Please remember, no one threw away their autos when the Wright Bros invented controlled flight. One can still buy pencils and paper in the world of Computers.
We are watching all that is going on as you are and as I'm sure the manufacturers are. Sometimes we influence the market, sometimesd we are influenced by the market. Rest assured that we all being swept along in this river of time and today is the only thing that is "really" new. Tomorrow is a new adventure in the world of knives. Sometimes it's Shakespear and sometimes it's Disney. Enjoy the time. Sorry for the rant.