Prices of Japanese radios?

I wonder when the next round of price drops will come on Japanese gear? The big Japanese players such as Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood have had an easy ride of late and been able to dictate prices. Now the competition is waking up, I expect they will be facing tougher times.

The latest exchange rates (UK pound to Japanese Yen) is £1 is worth about 193 Yen. Not many years ago it was less than 130 Yen to the pound. In real terms, Japanese goods should be much less expensive. At the moment both the UK dealers and Japanese are doing very well thank you from a customer base prepared to pay high prices. Expect big falls between now and the year end. This will be partly due exchange rates becoming much better (for those in the UK) and partly due to the increasing threat from the non-Japanese suppliers. Don’t you find it amazing how low cost some Chinese hand portables are compared with similar products from Japan? Rip-off come to mind – charge high prices for Japanese goods as long as the suckers pay.

No, the age of UK amateur radio consumers being taken for a ride is ending. The next time you discuss prices with UK dealers remind them of competition and exchange rates! At the moment their margins must be very high. Japanese goods are priced too high in the UK – fact. A few years ago I was more sympathetic, but not any more. UK consumers should pay a fair price with the dealers getting a fair margin, but please don’t take us all for mugs. I shall buy when the prices are fair and not before.

If I have this wrong, I shall be interested to hear the dealers viewpoint. Exchange rates have got vastly better and I do not see this reflected in end user prices here in the UK.  Someone is making very handsome profits.

Consumers – vote with your wallets and do not buy overpriced radios.  I have said before, the FT817 is classic example: all development costs were recovered years ago, so the price should be considerably lower than it is. Dealers have dropped the price somewhat, but it is nowhere near what it should be for a very mature design.

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

7 Responses to “Prices of Japanese radios?”

  • peter kg5wy:

    I agree with you for the most part, but I think there is a possible reason for the price differences.
    The cost of living in Japan is very high.
    The cost of living in China is low if you are working in an assembly plant. Also, I think there may be a lack of some quality control in the Chinese manufacturing process, resulting in lower sale prices.
    Having said all that, I think the big Japanese manufactures can and should reduce there prices.

  • Mike, VE3MIC:

    I agree with Roger somewhat. When speaking of currency exchange rates, Canadians have been taken advantage of for decades. The retailers are quick to adjust their prices when the exchange rate increases, but rarely are the prices lowered when the reverse happens. I also agree to a certain level about the manufacturers needing to recoup their R&D costs, but agree that there are many examples of the costs not being not lowered well after these R&D costs should have been reclaimed. Another example of this practice is with D-STAR radios.
    But let’s not kid ourselves, these manufacturers are in business to make a money.We also must recognize that if the Amateur Radio business becomes not profitable, they will simply stop producing. This is particularly worrisome to me if we’re left with just low cost, low quality suppliers.
    73 de Mike

  • Roger G3XBM:

    My main point is the exchange rate UK Pound-Yen is HEAPS better than a few years ago, but retail prices do NOT show the same reductions. At the moment Chinese quality control is not yet up to standards we expect, but think Apple – they will get there. No, we are being charged too much here in the UK. The next few months will be critical. I expect to see Japanese prices drop further here in the UK.

  • Bob W8RMV:

    I agree, in part. Also remember that profits from current production radios helps fund R&D for new radios. I think many Hams are waiting for price drops for the reasons you mention. I always wait for rebates, major ham swaps and holidays, etc. if I buy a new radio. Some new radio prices have gone up here in the USA since Dayton. 73.

  • Jerry VE6CPP:

    I believe there is ‘much more’ to the ‘Pricing vs Exchange Rate’, etc. I know years ago, when the CDN Dollar was at an All Time High..people were complaining as to why a Book or Magazine said $4.95US.. $7.95 Canada ! (when the US Price was cheaper to pay !) I also know a Local, who found an Amazing Deal in Hong Kong on an HF Rig while visiting his Son.. said ‘After Duty, Taxes, Exchange Rates, Tariffs, etc.’ it would have been ‘Cheaper’ to order one from a US or CDN Dealer after he got home ! Blame the Govt.’s.. not the Manufacturers ! $38 bottle of Whiskey brewed 5min from my home.. is $4US in Mexico ! So where’s the Shipping/Handling/Taxes there ? Oh.. We Pay it 1

  • Craig - N7LB:

    99% of the amateur radio dealers make far less on each radio sale than most ham consumers think. The problem of higher prices lies squarely at the feet of the manufacturers, not the dealers.

    Until the manufacturers drop their pricing, there’s really very little room left for the dealers to move. In U.S. dollars, a $400 Japanese radio sale provides a dealer about $20 to $25 in profit, to which he has to pay employee salaries, overhead, inventory costs, taxes, etc., etc. – and compete with every internet web site that always advertises “cheaper” pricing.

    There’s a bigger problem in play, however. While it’s absolutely true that an FT-817 radio’s development costs have been paid for many times over, let’s also remember that ongoing research and development cost money, and the sales of the radios like the FT-817 pay for future research and development, and quality R&D can be expensive.

    As for the Chinese vendors, they have shown they are very good at copying somebody else’s design and turning out products at lower cost. What I haven’t seen yet (at all) is any true innovation or tight quality control from them.

    The last issue is one of realism. While we all would like lower pricing for everything we buy, when’s the last time any of us turned down an opportunity to make more money on a project or job we had bid? You know, we’re prepared to go as low as XX to get the work, but the customer says they are willing to pay XX + Y instead. In we’re honest, I doubt 1 in 100 would tell the customer, no, that’s too much, let me drop my price back down to XX instead.

  • Roger G3XBM:

    Craig, my main point is the UK dealers are making a good profit as a result of the far more favorable exchange rate. I want dealers and manufacturers to make fair profits and remain in business. It is just that I can spot when I am being ripped off. I cannot speak for USA dealers, but I doubt any UK dealer is on the breadline at present. No, I am all for dealers getting a fair cut but UK prices for Japanese radios do not look right. I forecast drops in prices before the year is out. China is coming up fast now. I much preferred it when we had UK-made products. TenTec and Elecraft are still left in the USA. How much longer I wonder?

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