PocketWizard Plagued by Poor Sales, May Have Laid Off Almost Half Its Staff

Video thumbnail for vimeo video PocketWizard PlusX

We’re unfortunately accustomed to bad news in the photo industry. That’s not to say there’s not great news and exciting new products and a bright future ahead, all of those things are there too, but slumping sales and discontinued products are becoming all-too-common reports.

Case in point: it seems flash trigger king PocketWizard is struggling of late, with reports claiming that the company has had to lay off as many as 20 of its 50 employees due to low sales figures and increasing competition out of China.

The original report comes from the good people at Lighting Rumors, who cite an email by PocketWizard CEO Tim Neiley in which the head honcho admits that the company “has reduced staff” and announces the end of an 18-year relationship with consultancy firm Inovanti.


Official details are slim, and there’s only so much one can assume from the words “has reduced staff,” but LR claims that competition from Chinese brands — which are becoming increasingly more reliable while remaining extremely cheap — has forced the company to fire “as many as 20 or more employees” over the course of two rounds of layoffs.

This is confirmed somewhat by LinkedIn profiles that reveal employees from every department ending employment in January and February. And while business the company is doing in the US is not slowing down (according to a statement by US distributor Mac Group) we can’t help but wonder what effect layoffs of this scale will have down the road.

And speaking of wondering what will happen, let us know what you think in the comments. Have you found yourself leaning towards the cheaper competition when it comes to investing in a triggering system? And how do you think PocketWizard should respond?

(via SLR Lounge)

Image credits: Photographs courtesy of PocketWizard

  • Scott Wuerch

    Show me a Chinese “knock-off” that is as clunky and heavy as the PW’s. The work “Knock-off” is typically reserved for a product that is made to look and function like the original product. My Yongnou 603s don’t look anything like P-dubs. They look better and function just as well as any P-dubs I’ve used in the past. We’re all using Chinese “knockoffs” (if “Chinese origin” is what you mean by “knock-off”) and the vast majority of parts in the few US made products are Chinese in origin. No consumer benefits from a protectionist environment. In business ya either innovate and grow or you don’t and die, baby! Welcome to the consumer market…in hardware and in photographers.

  • Broseph of Arimathea

    No, ‘Chinese Origin’ is not what I mean and you know it. A knockoff specifically refers to a product where one (chinese) company has taken the intellectual property of another, used it in breach of the conditions of said intellectual property (in combination with third world labor and questionable QC and materials) to produce a low cost substitute product.

    But you knew that already.

  • Carlos Rayon

    I just bought a pair of the Plus X, I’m thinking of buying another in the near future.

  • jtan163

    The problem with teh support argument for many caes, and I am not sure an PW, as I don’t own any, is that it is only true in some markets, typically US/North America and Europe/UK.

    The rest of the world typically pays higher prices and gets no support, unless you are willing to call a US toll number. That’s getting cheaper to do, but since the customer is paying the premium for support, shouldn’t the vendor be paying for the call – or even better opening regional offices or at least appointing regional distributors who will take up the support burden?

    Else why pay for support?

  • Bubba Jones

    Ah yes, the cost of the Nikon SB lineup. When the SB-800s came out I purchased one; I think 2005. This week I sold the SB-800 for $200, then purchased two YongNuo 560 III along with their YN-560-TX, have not yet arrived, and two 603 II C. Total cost about $240.

    Do never again will I need to purchase any OEM flash. For my Alienbees I use YN603 II C.

    We photographers are our own worst enemy. Many photographers base their opinion of other photographers on equipment used; sad. Clients do not judge us by our equipment, they judge us by our results.

    Think about it, do you judge a cook by the brand of pans used, a mechanic by the tools used, a writer by the word processor used; the list goes on. Folks, use the tools meet your needs, be they expensive or inexpensive.

    Only question is, does your equipment perform as you need it to, nothing else truly matters. Too many photographers are measurebators, on ego trips, feeling they must justifying why they spent so much money over what others purchased. All that does not matter, their results matter not the equipment.

    Look at YongNuo’s history, they were the first with many of the innovation in flash equipment. So much so OEMs are licensing from them or copying them.

  • Bubba Jones

    Question, how did you determine these Chinese products are nowhere as reliable? Please be very specific, what tests did you run, how many times did you run the tests, under what conditions did you run them? Present your data for all to see.

    Do some research, read forums and blogs, you will find many photographers experiencing the unreliability of PWs; hint, check Canon sites. Oh, there is a difference between cheap and lower cost.

    On a side note, YongNuo brought features to their products that OEM are just now incorporating in their own products. Again, do some research.

    All the above to say, I wish Pocket Wizard good will. Though over priced they have nice products. They set a standard for the industry, but they have been passed up. That happens with many companies.