The only new thing is maybe the Urathane sidewall (pvc does not work for a sidewall as it does not stick to anything and is brittle - try smacking a piece with a hammer - wear glasses its dangerous) which was taken from snowboarding which really makes no difference to abs sidewalls other than marketing the sidewall as a slimeball skateboard wheel lol, everything else you mentioned had already been achieved in kiteboards years ago including vert lam foam wood core, 3d base and top, sidewalls, moulded/ pressed...
i do think companies deserve some respect for like you say investing in full scale production of new ideas , but I think kiteboard builders also deserve respect for contributing and influencing to above also and some other kiteboard companies have done all of what is mentioned above (except teh urathane sidewalls) on a large scale previously also - and both owe it to snowboard technology ultimately...!
Our whole first year of production of side-wall style boards were made with PU side walls. Summer of 2003/04 those ones. Not even my idea that one - came out of the amateur build guys over at the boardbuilding Yahoo group.
Prior to that year our boards had a built up glass/epoxy rail not unlike a semi-capped snowboard rail.
Since 2004 we have used an epoxy side wall for bond strength and ease of repair.
Currently 40k+ gusts out there an rain - will wait for it to back off a bit this PM before heading out - swell now over 4m!
Show me a board pre LF hybrids ala Ennen and Watson, that has bottom contours such as built in fins and channels, top contours, foam/ wood hybrid core and has flex (you can leave out the PU rail even)... I can't remember seeing one.
I can remember seeing thin foam core kiteboards put in a press so that the bottom shape is just the negitive of the top shape, but this is hardly the same thing (completely different construction) and they sucked to ride, (they didn't have the problem of built in fins either).
not sure if takoon did built in fins first - was about same time. Kind of wierd that there are not more built in fins on kiteboards - would save money, but i guess it is down to scale. It is interesting in wakeboarding how some riders swear blind how swing weight is great (ie heavier board) but that some don't mind the new much lighter setups ("pro" versions even..). The lighter setups sure make it easier for kiteboarders to get into bindings as it takes less time to adjust your riding so I reckon it is a good thing as the new construction has contributed to the weight reduction.
Anyway is a stiffer board better for pop? Yes, in consideration of the amount of wet noodle boards on the market, but then again they are not designed for that kind of riding normally.
takoons boards still were not the same construction.
Stiff boards pop better than a standard kiteboards (not hard because they suck, not even a little bit of thought is put into flex zones etc.), but the best board for pop is the one with the right amount of controlled flex.
Different boards designed... maybe 10.
different boards shaped maybe 15?
Different boards sold... dunno a fair few when i worked in a shop. But what's that got to do with anything? haha, would you say you know about cars just because you sold them? Same with designing and shaping. I can think of a few guys who have shapped and designed 1000s of surfboards and kiteboards and still make shit boards.
All these things are pretty irrelevant, I would say it's more to do with the amount of different boards you have ridden, which would be well over 100 and also the amount of time you spend doing these sports, which has been my whole life so far.
Either way you don't have to believe what I say or even agree with it, it's just my opinion.