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Has LM lost its ability to innovate?

us Offline prime77

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Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
on: October 14, 2006, 10:21:41 AM
First off let me say that I am a huge LM fan and for the most part my EDC is a LM (Charge Ti).  Today I picked up two new LM's, a Crunch and a MiniTool and was struck just how good and innovative both tools are.  The minitool while being a simple tool with basically just two implements is a very cool and well thought out and put together tool.   And the Crunch is amazing.  It works better than I ever thought it would. Granted the knife and other implements are on the short side but the locking vise pliers seem to work great. It must be known that I only played with these tools for an hour our two and I have no idea how they will hold up over time and hard use. After playing with them for a while I had to remind myself that these tools are old designs. That they were from what is called LM's first generation tools.  Which got me thinking.  Allthough LM's new offerings, the Core, Surge, Blast, Fuse, Kick are all good tools they are nothing new. And the Charge and New Wave while being two of my favorite multitools out there are just bigger, stronger versions of LM's most innovative tool off all time, the original Wave. Sure all the tools now lock and the Charge has Ti handles and a better steal blade, but the design is the same. And even there it could be argued that the scissors, for some the most used implement on a multitool is a step backwards from the Wave.  Anyway, after this rambling on I ask has LM lost it's ability to innovate and come up with new designs?  Or was all their tools so far ahead of their time in the first place and all they had to do was tweak them for the next generation?  Don't get me wrong I love LM tools and tomorrow morning I will pick up my Charge just like I do every morning, but I hope the tool elves over there in Portland are tinkering away on something other than a Charge with black aluminum handles.
"


us Offline J-sews

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #1 on: October 15, 2006, 01:35:47 AM
Add Micra springs to your list of innovations by Leatherman. Have you ever looked closely at those things? The main springs on a Leatherman Micra are strong, smooth, and flush with the scissor heads. They are also patented. Look at how crude the main spring is on a SOG Crosscut or a Schrade Tough Chip and you'll appreciate the Leatherman design.

~Bob
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #2 on: October 15, 2006, 02:58:01 AM
I have been thinking about this one all day, bouncing this one around and around.  I'm not really certain that I have an answer that makes sense, but here goes...

I don;t know if I would say Leatherman was that far ahead of the curve with the original tools, nor do I think they've lost their ability to innovate.  What I think the case is, is more along the lines of running faster out of the gates, but you have to pace yourself for the long haul.  Coming out with stuff constantly is an expensive proposition, and once you've done something groundbreaking, the rest is just variations on a theme, or continued revision.

Sure alot of Leatherman's tools right now are variations on the Wave design, but that does a few things for them.  First and foremost, it creates a brand identity- folks will know at a glance whether it's a "real" Leatherman or not just by how it looks.  Second, by recreating the design over and over they save themselves the cost of designing new tools and new looks.  They are also allowing themselves to compete in almost every catagory- big multis, medium multis, multis with scissors, multis with woodsaws, multis with interchangeable screwdriver bits and so on, again while keeping the cost lower.

SOG seems to be doing this as well, although their approach is a little different.  Instead of killing one line and starting a new one based on the same original concept, they keep evolving the PowerLock, upgrading the tools and finishes, options and so on.

They do this because it not only maximizes the effeciency of design costs, but also because when you come out with really cool stuff constantly it becomes an almost impossible pace to keep up.  Coming out with great ideas is fantastic, but if you come out with them constantly, folks will get used to it, and only start to notice you again when you don't manage to keep up with yourself.  Soon, you become a has been, and that's never a good reputation to have.

I'd say the re-use of the design might seem a little stagnant right now, but there are worse offenders out there, and there are legitimate reasons behind it.  In this particular case I wouldn't dismiss LM just yet... I am sure they have something developing up their sleeve.  They have been the top of the heap for too long not to always have something in the works!

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Offline LatinoHeat

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #3 on: October 15, 2006, 03:26:25 AM
Also, think about it this way.  LM STILL produces one hell of a product.  Sure, they are not the top of the heap anymore, at least not entirely, but they still make quality products.  Sure, the last line they developed was the Wave/Charge line, but alot of people still like the old PST type multis.  Hell, I gave up on my Wave and went to the Blast, which is basically the old Retro design, simply because there was more about that model that I liked then disliked.  It goes back to the old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Sure, business is a competition, but if you have something that works, it's not always a good idea to change it just for the sake of change.  Like Def said, they're probably cooking something up, but in the mean time, this is what we have.  It's all good, though.  Everything is everything.


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #4 on: October 15, 2006, 03:37:46 AM
Quote
Sure, they are not the top of the heap anymore, at least not entirely, but they still make quality products.

I don't know if they aren't top of the heap anymore... sure it's a much bigger heap than it was 15 years ago, but I think they are still at the top.  At worst, I'd say they are tied for first place...

Of course they do make quality products, and the rest is just details.

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Offline parnass

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #5 on: October 15, 2006, 03:52:34 AM
I won't address Leatherman's technical innovation in this post, but their marketing skill has been very successful.

You can find Leatherman tools just about everywhere -- in Target, Walmart, Sears, and many other stores across the nation.  I've seen SOG multitools in just a couple of stores, and Victorinox Swisstools and Spirits sold in only one store each in my area.

Most consumers don't know about SOG or Victorinox multitools because they have never seen them.
Retired engineer, author.

A man with one multitool always knows exactly which to use. A man with many multitools is never quite sure. - parnass


Offline brianWE

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 03:51:45 AM
You know, sometimes, I feel we gadget freaks can become a bit unrealistic.
That is, we aren't satisfied with any gadget/tool.
No matter how good, we want the next one.
Sure, there is no "pinnacle" of development. But, I feel, "excellent" is underrated. Sometimes.
My financial situation has taken me off the "Gadget treadmill" and I have to be satisfied with my old Wave.

Frankly, that's OK. Haven't found a mulitool situation where it didn't satisfy me.

That said, I would love the next one.
Dearly.


us Offline CacherX4

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #7 on: October 24, 2006, 04:33:04 AM
You know, sometimes, I feel we gadget freaks can become a bit unrealistic.
That is, we aren't satisfied with any gadget/tool.
No matter how good, we want the next one.
Sure, there is no "pinnacle" of development. But, I feel, "excellent" is underrated. Sometimes.
My financial situation has taken me off the "Gadget treadmill" and I have to be satisfied with my old Wave.

Frankly, that's OK. Haven't found a mulitool situation where it didn't satisfy me.

That said, I would love the next one.
Dearly.

I couldn't have said it better myself.


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #8 on: October 24, 2006, 12:24:13 PM
Brian is good at summing us fanatics up like that...

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


Offline Ging

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Re: Has LM lost its ability to innovate?
Reply #9 on: October 24, 2006, 09:33:38 PM
I won't address Leatherman's technical innovation in this post, but their marketing skill has been very successful.
Leatherman are the only multi supplier here, most camping/outdoor shops will sell SAK (knives) and Leathermans.  Some will sell Vic multi's but never a SOG or Gerber (although they are coming slightly more common). 
E


 

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