Okay so we can all argue about the margin of error and how only best people read this forum, but still... 400+ responses... Any person who's got a reasonable business sense would shit their pants if they saw the company that's only 6 months old leading this poll.
Maybe now we can see why the reaction from the rest of the industry was so quick and vicious, way back before Best had even shipped its first kite. They could see this happening 6 months before it did.
Now the only question is how long will the others take to react, because there is no way that there is sufficient growth in the sport to support status quo sales with Best sucking people away from the old companies. Not to mention kites haven't leapt ahead in performance like they had in previous years. Companies are starting to switch focus to relaunch technologies and systems like one-pump to keep kiters coming back for new stuff. But will these things that haven't been perfected (and could be copied eventually) really be enough to get people to ante up 3x as much money? and every year?
Also, consider this, I have many friends who kiteboard, and I do not know a single one who bought their kite through a retailer or without considerable (more than 30%) discount. How much longer can the industry continue the charade? Eventually everyone will know that only newbies pay retail. When sales start to dwindle, bro-deals will stop, and even more people will be left searching for a cheaper alternative.
There is a chance to save these companies and the shops before more people start filing bankruptcy... here's my plan to save the kite industry:
Get over the idea that kiteboarding is going to be the next snowboarding, its not. Its too difficult, dangerous, expensive, and it requires giving up your life to chasing wind. People just can't do that with kids, jobs, etc. Remember you may live in some warm place where its windy everyday, and you can kite all year, you work at a company that promotes it even... but most people don't.
So now that you know there's not going to be that explosive growth you've been expecting, you can start planning for the future...
Wipika, Slingshot, Globerider, F-One & any other kiteboarding only companies:
DROP YOUR DISTRIBUTORS
Get rid of these guys, you don't need them. You have the most powerful advertising engine in the world at your fingertips, and its basically free - THE INTERNET! People know your brands and will follow them. If you sold your soul to your distributors with contracts, well then that sucks. Get out of them as soon as possible.
With your distributors gone you can control kite prices world wide, you can control inventory tighter. No more excess kites at the end of the year sitting in places all over the world. You have more to deal with, but you have way less waste. You can deliver kites direct to people who live in areas without distributors. You got your distributors because you thought you were going to some day be shipping thousands each month, but it never happened and its not going to.
Just sell direct to the shops, and give them a bigger margin with the money you're not sending to the distributor. With a bigger margin they can give huge deals at the end of the year sale when everyone who doesn't need the latest and greatest goes shopping. The deals need to be closer to 40% than the current 20% that people should get anyway when getting quivers and alike.
Naish, North, Gaastra, & anyone who's got a windsurfing division:
You think you're fucked because your leashed to the distributor who does your windsurfing gear. Well can't you spin off another company like "Naish Kiteboarding" and let them sell direct or without a distributor?
Talk to your lawyers, they are smart, let them figure it out. Oh wait you hired your step brother as your lawyer and all he does is surf and smoke weed? Oh shit...
To all Companies:
Why are there 20 different companies on this list! There were so many Toby couldn't even fit them all! You guys are never going to thrive this way, there is just too many brands, too much overhead, not enough demand, and not enough differences between brands to justify them. You have all been around long enough to build up fans, they will follow you to merged companies. Imagine the best designers from several companies working together. Imagine a Splitstrut-KPO-Reflexing-Recon kite...
There is only a couple kite shops at the most near any kiteable spot, they can only carry 2-3 brands a piece... if you get the list of total companies down, you increase exposure for designs that may not have representation in a lot of areas.
Anyway, sorry for the novel... just a few ideas from an outsider. I don't really expect anyone to read this and go "Oh yeah! I never thought of that!" I'm sure they have all thought of it, but maybe they just aren't saying it. I'm just tired of all the bitching really. They all claim to be victims of the big evil company that sprung out of nowhere and started to takeover.
I really could give a shit if a few kite companies fold. They all have dream jobs, and dream jobs aren't deserved for anyone. But I do feel sorry for the shops and really want to see them survive this. The only way to keep the shops and get the rest of the kites as cheap as they should be is to get more efficient. These are just my ideas on how to do that.
...and if you read all of that, you got waaay too much time on your hands.