Just how do they do it?

The Banggood portable BF-UV8D retails on eBay for just £14.25 with free shipping to the UK from China. In all honesty, just how can anyone compete?

This is a 5W RF 400-480MHz transceiver and comes complete with charger, back clip, antenna and battery. If I was Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood I’d throw in the towel now. Once the Chinese really wake up, the Japanese manufacturers have no chance of surviving. The Japanese will be driven more and more to niche markets, then die. I cannot see them staying around in the amateur market for too long.

At the moment the Japanese have quality on their side, but the Chinese will soon be as good. At the moment it seems everything, just about, is made in China. Recently I bought some Olympus binoculars – these said “Made in China”. The Chinese seem to be able to make most things at prices that simply cannot be matched.

20 years from now we’ll be living in a very different world.

You can buy a 433MHz module for just over £1 with free shipping from China!!

They make profits too, so how do they do it?

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

12 Responses to “Just how do they do it?”

  • Dave Fairchilds N6XJP:

    Not sure I agree with all the comments Roger. Quality doesn’t happen by accident. The logistics tail and service capability will not be there initially. But maybe if they are so inexpensive, hams will consider them “disposable”. When it fails, toss it out. Throw in the towels? Doubtful. Your premise that Chinese radios will soon be as good is based on what? All the other Chinese “junk” we are all familiar with disproves that premise on its face. I have a Yaesu HT that I bought in 1990. Looks like crap but still works perfectly. Show me a 27 year old Chinese “anything” that works. No thanks. I’ll stick with proven quality, not market entry, disposable prices. Dave, N6XJP

  • jeff WW6L:

    it wont last forever as their workforce will demand fair wages and at that point manufacturing will shift to other locations.

  • Michael VA3OTA:

    Just wait until the author discovers that you can get TWO BF-888s (5W,VHF) for that price…

  • Tony/N8WAC:

    I agree with Roger 100%. People today want the cheapest way out to get something. Seems that we are a throw away society. Quality means nothing anymore. But then again over time, quality probably will improve as these kids get older and more experienced producing products.

  • Walter Underwood - K6WRU:

    The BF-888S is spec’ed for 3 W, not 5 W. You’ll be lucky to get 2 W out of it.

    One of the standard cost-cutting measures is to leave out any bandpass or channel filtering for the receiver. Those analog components are expensive and fussy in manufacturing. Also failure-prone, so they need good QA.

    Instead, they convert a broad chunk of spectrum down and shove it into an A/D converter. Any big signal that comes in the barn door will desense the receiver.

    SOTA operators are familiar with this. The Baofeng is fine until you try to use it on a summit with another transmitter. Then it is useless.

    Try the same thing with a Yaesu FT-60R and it works fine.


  • jerry w5kaw:

    people forget that icom,and alinco are completely made in japan! now yeasu and kenwood are farming out some of their stuff to china and other country’s, just go look on the boxes as now it states on there where it is made! infact when the yeasu ft-270r came out in 2010 as i bought one then, and now I bought another one here recently and quess what now the newer ft-270r is made in china pull the battery and look on the label on the back of it! also japan is better quality than china stuff!

  • jerry w5kaw:

    to previous comment the older yeasu ft-270r was made in japan but the newer one was made in china!

  • Larry VE7VJ:

    I think Tony may be close to the mark. Anyone remember when “jap-crap” was a term tossed around? And how Japanese equipment would never be up to par?

  • Bryan M0IHY:

    Back in the 60’s imports from Japan (Jap crap) were inferior to British made stuff, the Japanese now produce quality goods.
    The Chinese? What better way to upset the market than by flooding it with cheap stuff, the sales of the quality goods falls off, the ‘quality’ market suffers.
    How many times would you have to replace the ‘cheaper’ item during the life span of the ‘quality’ item, I suspect the ‘cheaper’ item would cost more over the same period.
    I would rather pay a little more and know it still worked years later than buy cheap and replace often.

  • Gayland W9AKW:

    Right now it is junk that they are building. And Icom, Yasue, Kenwood could come down in there prices a whole lot. They have built enough to have payback on there designs.
    When Icom first came out they were the same as stuff coming out of China. But it was not long they caught on and there prices went up.
    But the stuff now that comes over is throw away stuff. Just like a lot of other electronics.

  • Matt W1MST:

    I think we should be careful wishing that Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood gear gets a whole lot cheaper. Once you take the healthy profit margins out of this gear, you’re one step closer to someone asking this question at a board meeting somewhere: Is the amateur radio market even worth it anymore?

  • Craig - N7LB:

    Apple’s cell phones (and nearly all Android phones) are made in China, yet few issues are raised by their end-users (as it relates to quality).

    Of course, Samsung recently screwed up with their Galaxy battery design, but my point is that Chinese companies are capable of building quality products if three conditions exist:

    1) The highest level of quality control in the engineering and build process is insisted by the company that designed the product (rather than the lowest possible cost).

    2) Constant quality control checks are made to ensure the actual overseas contract manufacturer is meeting the QC standards (as set by the engineering design company).

    3) The engineering design company needs to understand that higher manufacturing quality control standards will cost them more (up front), but lower their overall costs by reducing returns, improving customer loyalty, gaining market share, increasing repeat customer business, etc., etc.

    Of course some hams can’t wait to buy an inferior product – so long as it’s cheap. They don’t care if it emits spurs all over the band, or the receiver’s selectivity stinks, or if the actual power output is far less than what’s advertised on the box or the poorly written “Chinglish” manual, so long as it’s cheap.

    QST published the results of various radio testing done at Dayton Hamvention one year, and if memory serves, somewhere between 80-90% of Baofeng products failed to meet even the minimum FCC technical standards, but Baofeng didn’t worry for three reasons:

    One, they simply changed the outside plastic appearance of the radio and gave it a new part number, thus allowing them to state those test results were based on older versions of the radios (nothing inside of any engineering importance changed), and

    Two, they realized that with today’s FCC budget/lack of staff, manufacturer self-certifications, and lack of political will, there was little chance dumping poorly designed and manufactured products would cost them in the marketplace, and

    Three, they realized that while many hams talk about supporting technical standards, supporting quality manufacturer’s, supporting local dealers, many of them actually vote with their wallets (i.e., cheap wins most of the time to those non-technical U.S. hams that managed to memorize enough answers to pass what amounts to nearly an open book exam to get their license).

    I don’t know what other countries call their hams (that obsess with trying to compare their latest $30 USD radio to their friends “overpriced” higher priced radios), but we tend to call them “dumpster divers” for obvious reasons, but most folks that do any research at all will eventually come to the same conclusion, quality tends to cost more.

    I don’t state these points in any attempt to embarrass new hams, but merely to point out that years ago local clubs helped to not only teach the theory basics but also Elmer the new hams in basic on the air procedures. Most of the time, Elmer’s also imparted some product knowledge along the way (like why product x costs more than product y, but it’s worth it over time. Sadly, most of that is gone today, and the newly licensed are left on their own (most of the time learning through the school of hard knocks).

    As to Matt’s point (about the manufacturer’s), the same holds true for those dealers that sell the gear.

    There are very few quality ham radio manufacturer’s left, and fewer and fewer commercial dealers that attend hamfests, as more and more new hams see no problem in taking 30 to 45 minutes asking their dealer dozens of questions about various features, product comparisons, etc., and then ordering the item via the internet (where a minimum wage clerk in a warehouse tosses the radio into a box, possibility with a new book – in order to justify their $99 USD yearly Prime membership rate).

    What’s even more ironic is that many of those same hams will still call the same dealer back a few days later, asking for help to program their new toy, or work around what they think is a bug, apparently under the mistaken idea that the dealer either gets a fee from the Chinese manufacturer to provide free tech support (no matter where the product was purchased), or that the dealer has already forgotten the previous call.

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