Looking back to move forward

12/13/14 (by the way, not important but, this is the last time a date will line up consecutively like that until 1/2/2103)

So anyway, 2014 has been a crazy year, and I would usually save an entry like this for closer to new years eve, but I have been inspired recently to really take a focused look back at all that has transpired in this banner year for vaping.

Yes, The oxford Dictionary declared this the year that the word "Vape" is officially and irrevocably indoctrinated into the vernacular... it's no longer slang... it's a real and genuine word. A lot like when Pinocchio miraculously transformed into a real boy. OK, maybe that was stretching it a bit, but you get the point. We've been legitimized. This is a big deal, and we can all sense it.

In recent years literally thousands of small businesses have popped up that manufacture and sell goods related to our market space. It was only 5 years ago that I remember looking all over town to find ANY electronic cigarette at ANY price. Finding a bottle of "e-liquid" was nearly impossible at a local level. Today, electronic cigarettes are available at over 100,000 convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies... even WalMart has a nice little selection of them. It's simply amazing. But as amazing as that is, it is equally terrifying for many in the manufacturing and retail space. The FDA has drawn-back the bowstring and pointed it straight at our little 2.5 billion dollar industry... which is, I believe, the largest cottage industry in existence today and possibly the largest one that has ever emerged... and growing.

So how will this all play out? Well, my crystal ball is a bit hazy... I can't really prognosticate with regard to that outcome, but I can tell you in the ever-poignant words of Bob Dylan; "oh the times they are a changing".

So what has changed for the House of Hybrids?

2014 brought us into the era of the ZNA... It was a runaway hit in the first half of the year. We sold a ton of them... and we repaired a ton of them as well... The early releases of the DNA 30 board had some issues that needed to be sorted out, which eVolv finally took care of, but the burden of repairing such a large number of ZNAs due to board failures really took it's toll on the viability of that project... the labor and shipping costs alone, well, the cost of handling those updates and repairs stripped the profitability from that project. And at roughly 8 months in... the clone hit the streets. Took them a while, but the ever-present shots being fired about the clone's imminent arrival from speculative media chilled the market for some who decided to wait for the cheaper (and lower quality) alternative. The ZNA still sells... not at the same break-neck speed, but I have no plans to discontinue the production anytime soon, it remains formidable alternative in the marketplace.

2014 was a big year for drippers... and HoH doesn't make one so that absolutely caused a massive decline in the sales of Genesis style atomizers... Phil Busardo predicted the death of stainless mesh, and he was absolutely correct. We discontinued the production of the Z-atty-Pro in early 2014... and the Z-Atty-U shortly thereafter... we still have a some on hand, but when they are gone, they are gone. It's a shame really, these still remain the best way to get a GREAT flavor... people dismiss them because of "leaking"... yet there they are inconveniently dripping into a atomizer that leaks just as badly when laid on its side... ironic, isn't it? I know that may sound bitter, but it truly is not. I'm not bitter about that at all. I do find it amusing that every review of the Z-Atty mentioned the "Airy Draw" a few years back, and now people drill them out because they are "Not enough air"... and the design never changed... vapers eventually figured out that air is needed to make great flavorful vapor... imagine that... I was right... you're welcome.

So let me cut to the chase... When HoH started, I was singularly focused on making devices that the consumer could use to stop smoking, and remain smoke-free forever. We chose the genesis style atomizer because at the time, so many years ago, it was THE most effective way to accomplish that goal. Frankly, everything in the marketplace was pretty terrible. Terrible flavor, poor vapor production, HARD to use and unreliable. The genny was an easy to rebuild item that had MASSIVE flavor... by comparison to other offerings in the market, it was a simple device.

So what has changed? The market has changed...

People have lost sight of the objective. An entire online community has grown exponentially and the VAST majority of the participants that frequent the online offerings have ALREADY made the transition from combustible tobacco to vaping. Manufacturers in this marketplace have started designing products for THESE already transitioned enthusiasts that focus on MORE VAPOR and not LESS SMOKE.... this is an important distinction for me.  A couple years ago, way back when vaping was new... we were more focused on why we vape... To get away from smoke.

Back when I started this company, there was only ONE kind of vaper... EVERY vaper had recently quit smoking, and was basically an ex-smoker. Vaping now has TWO very very important segments... Segment one is "the quitter" and segment two is "the vaper" and these two segments are VERY different in what they expect or need from vaping equipment.

MANY stores have not noticed the subtle change and roll everybody into ONE classification... The Vaper... They forget about that ex-smoker now that business is solid and there are lots of "vapers". The Many stores have changed their focus from marketing to the needs of "The Quitter" and are now favoring the presumably more glamorous market of "The Vaper". Is there evidence of that? Of course there is! I'm seeing the term e-Cig vanish from the tongue of the vape shop. One of our more successful brick and mortar retail outlets changed their name from "Central Iowa eCigs" to "Central Iowa Vapor" in 2014... CLEARLY a strong message as to where their focus has turned.

In 2014 we've witnessed SO many trends in vaping emerge... but not too many in "quitting"... Again, I think we are losing focus. At the onset of the year, 20 watts was a LOT... the DNA 30 was MIND BLOWING power... since then, devices that exceed 250 watts have hit the streets. Great for vapers... not so great for the quitters. I've seen the ecig offerings at the gas station grow... you can finally get an eGo with a CE4 there. NOT much else has happened...

In 2014 many people got to see a side of me that they didn't like. As I remain focused on serving the needs of "the quitter" and others saw my products as objects of desire and/or vapor production, two worlds collided. When I build a device there is NOTHING more important than getting that device into the hands of a person that is going to use it to QUIT SMOKING or to STAY AWAY from smoking. When limited demand fueled the secondary market, I was REALLY upset that opportunists took advantage of folks that really wanted to OWN one of these devices. In essence, the unauthorized reseller intervenes making it difficult to own a device that could help save a persons life. This is really hard for me to watch. A handful of guys "figures out" how to snipe the things off of a website, and people that want one NOW are in forced into the position of having to wait or ante up... it's so unfair. I made it my BUSINESS to make it hard on those guys that were taking advantage of people like that. Love me or hate me, I am laser-focused on helping people quit or stay off the cigarettes. 

See, there's an interesting thing about HoH products that many people don't realize. I do not intentionally design products for the vaping enthusiast, and I never have. If the vaper happens to like my products, that's great, but MANY MANY MANY people have quit using the early Zenesis Hybrids. Why do you think the device came with a pre-built coil when they were first introduced? The fact is... I have not designed a new atomizer in quite some time... it has been two years since my Carto-Tank hit the street, well over three years for my Genny... and people have SCREAMED for me to make a dripper, and I have not done so... there are HUNDREDS of good drippers on the market, you don't need one from me, and more important... quitters don't need them AT ALL. There are GREAT atomizers available for quitters that do an AMAZING job on any of the PVs we make.

ANY of my PVs with a Nautilus or AeroTank is all ANY quitter should need to transition from the inhale-able death of combustible tobacco to a world free of all those toxins. I have focused on designing tanks that utilize pre-built coils in favor of rebuildables... you'll be able to get one soon. Last year Phil Busardo predicted the death of mesh... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I predict for 2015 the death of the NEED to rebuild. If we want to end smoking, we MUST make vaping easier to approach for those that live in the world of smoking. We have to do this, and as vapers, we have to encourage this product development.

Vaping is WONDERFUL... it is SO much more pleasurable than smoking. Smoking gave us Tobacco, Menthol and Death, burned a few houses down in the process as well. Vaping is a FANTASTIC exploration of the senses. There are SO MANY ways to enjoy nearly limitless combinations of flavors that are being concocted by the flavor makers of our community... Vaping offers INFINITE pleasure... 

But remember folks, you were once a quitter too. And to a quitter... a person at the precipice of entering into the unknown... that person sees dripping and ohms law and meters and kanthal and.... oh my GOD this is crazy stuff... we lose that person. They see all the bother and they go away. They see the "stuff" they need to carry with them... smoking was simple... vaping is complex and unintuitive... REFOCUS. 

I'm going to focus on CONTINUING to help people quit smoking. You're not going to see products that are aimed towards winning cloud competitions. You're not going to see products that focus on anything but EASILY and INTUITIVELY helping people free themselves of the shackles of smoking.

I am going to CONTINUE to use superior materials and make simple elegant designs that will stand the test of time. Style is important. Reliability and ease of use... all these things matter. And make no mistake about it, You very well MAY be able to win a cloud competition with one of our devices, but that is not why I made it and it sure as heck isn't why you should own it.

Stay smoke-free, people.

That's why I'm here, to help you achieve that reality. 

Happy Holidays,

Zen~