Friday, May 06, 2011

Butterfly rubber and blades substitutes

Players looking for a cheaper substitute for their favourite Butterfly rubber, and in some cases blades as well, is one of the hot topics around the clubs and online communities.

As most of you know, about a year ago Butterfly Japan decided to raise their prices worldwide. Now this is not unusual, but the size price hike blew me away! Almost all Japan-made products went up by about huge margins, and some products increase by over 100%!

They did not stop there though. Because some countries were getting cheaper prices from the manufacturer than others, many distributors found it cheaper to buy from other distributors rather than the manufacturer, so the manufacturer forbid distributors from selling outside their region, and imposed steep fines for those
that violated this.

But wait... there's more... There are many small distributors around the world that have been selling and
promoting the Butterfly products for many years. Recently many of these have been told that they can no longer be supplied by Butterfly directly, but must now buy from the Butterfly appointed distributor that covers a much larger region.

It seems Butterfly is under new managment, who are more profit focussed. Of course this type of thing happens all the time in business, but in this case it seems they are not only letting down loyal players that have supported their products for many years, but also many of their distributors who have spent money and time promoting the Butterfly products for years! So it's not surprising that many players are fed-up with this, and are looking for alternative products.

Butterfly is arguable the market leader in equipment, and there is no question that they have a  wide range of high quality products used by many players all over the world. However there are many other manufacturers that have a wide range of quality products, and although Butterfly has a few unique and innovative products, the majorty of their equipment has something of similar performance and quality in other brands.

OK, what are they? Well this is something that the whole table tennis community can work on together. OOAK forum recently started making a list of the Butterfly rubber equivalents and blade substitutes. Other major forums like Mytt has also many valuable threads discussing Butterfly alternatives, but I think it best to organise this all in one list, so that it can be kept up to date and checked in a central location.

It would be great if we as individuals or other forums can support this, and all help add to this list, and as a result, many can benefit and save a lot of money spent on equipment. A lot of equipment does not have an identical product in another brand, but many come very close, and to 95% of players this may well be close enough, in that they either (1) cannot feel the difference, or (2) can easily adjust to the minor differences. If you can help, it easiest to simply respond in the OOAK forum, but you can leave comment here as well, and I can make sure it's added to the list.

If you're a Butterfly fan, or you believe the product that you're using has no equivalents and you can affort to keep using it, then go ahead keep using it... I have no problems with this at all, and I understand that changing equipment can be detrimental to people's game. However if you can no longer afford it, or you no longer wish to support the brand, you might just find something on the list that will work just as well, and save you lots of $$$ in the process.

This post is not meant to persuade players to stop using Butterfly products, but merely to offer other (usually cheaper) option, which may well be just as suitable for many of us.