In a word, yes. No. Maybe.
Richard over at Guns For Sale has an provocatively-titled post arguing that demand for Glocks has peaked, and other guns are on the rise, and he may be on to something here.
All successful companies reach a point where they discover a cash cow that brings in money hand over fist. For Microsoft, it was Windows-MS Office integration, for IBM, it was the server-terminal environment, for Sun, it was Sparc, for Apple, it was…
Apple is a special case. More on that later.
When a company discovers a cash cow, the tendency is to milk it for all it’s worth and avoid doing anything that might interrupt the revenue stream from that popular product. The emphasis is on refining existing products, not innovating new ones. Companies become successful and big and most importantly, risk-averse, making them vulnerable to the next innovation coming down the line.
Microsoft supplanted IBM because IBM was too focused on the server-terminal environment to see that desktop computing was the next big thing. Google upstaged Microsoft because Google saw that relevant information was more important than operating systems, and Facebook is in the process of upstaging Google because we trust our family and friends to give us relevant data more than we trust programmers in Silicon Valley.
Which brings me to Apple. Apple has been on top of the hi-tech world for ten years now: It’s gone from having Microsoft and Dell to worry about to squaring off against Google and Amazon, and it’s been successful so far because senior management has realized that we, the consumers, are in charge of what we want, not some faceless product marketing dude in middle management. In order to stay ahead of the innovation curve, Apple is willing to kill its cash cows when needed, even in their prime, something very few companies are capable of doing.
Glock needs to do this. The Gen4 pistols are nice, but they do have issues, and let’s face it, in an industry that ain’t exactly known for rapid innovation, Glock has pretty much stayed still, churning out the same size and shape of pistols with the same action for thirty years. They may stay on top for a while, though. To borrow a phrase from the IT world of 40 years ago, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”, and that’s where Glock is right now: They are the safe choice, the one to chose because everybody else is doing choosing them too.
Will they stay on top forever? Of course not, no company ever does. Who will knock them off? Someone who hits the sweet spot of price, performance, placement and promotion like Glock has these past decades. Maybe Ruger, maybe S+W, maybe some gunsmith in a garage with a great idea.
Heck, it may even be some guy from the backwoods of Utah.
* Disclaimer: I have no dog in the “Glocks vs. 1911” debate: As far as I’m concerned, there are CZ’s, and there’s everything else.
** Instead of going for the music reference, I went for a movie line in the post title.