The disconnect between what Roland is and what we want Roland to be
Over the years, Roland has invested a great deal in its manufacturing ability as well as engineering talent. Roland factories make Roland products. This ability defines what Roland is, or, at least, the kinds of products Roland makes – and analog anything just isn’t on the table.
The problem is Roland’s meticulously accumulated manufacturing ability falls within an area that is easily disrupted by software. Kudos to Roland for figuring out users want one knob per function (peppered in Roland’s past, but more recently fully embraced with Gais and Arias) but this isn’t enough to save Roland today.
I’d like to see Roland try an experiment. My suggestion is for Roland to introduce a sub-label / imprint / boutique / microbrewery division. Price point? Don’t worry about it. Quantity of scale? Who cares. Manufacturing ability? Irrelevant. Distribution? *shrug* Advertising? Not necessary. Small quantities. Direct sales. Limited runs.
For example, what if Roland simply offered a licensing agreement to a boutique outfit to produce euro modules based on classic Roland designs? No risk at all for Roland, but this would allow them to appear innovative and hedge against the steadily diminishing market window they’re adamant about maintaining.
What if Roland commissioned a true clone of a TB-303 or TR-909? I wonder how that would sell? Would it be expensive? Hell yeah. Would it sell in Guitar Center? Nope, but it doesn’t need to. What if there was a groove box that wasn’t a clone, but was simply analog and sported the Roland logo?