Monday, January 10, 2011
I first came across this when I started going to Interbike again. In the Asian Pavillion, the companies from the far East were displaying their wares trying to attract companies wanting branded components. I spied a familiar looking carbon fiber and aluminum 29"er fork in one of the booths. Upon closer inspection, it was found to be the "mother fork" to about a half dozen companies 29"er forks.
It was explained to me later that these companies simply specialize in some technique or facet of bicycle production, and then hawk their services to any bicycle company willing to work with them. Nothing wrong with any of the above, really. The thing was, it used to all happen behind closed doors. Not anymore.
The thing is, you can contact Chinese companies that are advertising directly into the U.S. and buy frames, and complete bikes, direct. By-passing the normal economy. It's a product of the internet age, and it is going to change the landscape as far as how business is done at many levels.
What will happen is anybodies guess, but it is fascinating to watch it all play out. Obviously the consumer that is looking for value and the businessman/entrepreneur is at odds in this game and changes are on the wind. I'm betting sooner than later.