With PAX Labs fast turnover in releasing the PAX 3 only 18 months after the PAX 2 release many are wondering when we get a PAX 4 Vaporizer release? It has been over 4 years and there is no new PAX 4 release in sight. So let’s explore why we probably won’t get a PAX 4 drop anytime soon.
While vaporizers are a relatively new market in the cannabis space, there are a few who love and acquire a wide variety of herb and dab vaporizers, an act referred to as Vaporizer Acquisition Syndrome (VAS). To these vaporizer enthusiasts a newly released vaporizer is as celebrated as a new pair of Jordan’s to a sneakerhead. Everyone wants the newest and shiny updated model and vaporizers are no different.
Ploom | How it All Started
Ploom (now PAX Labs) was founded in 2007 with the cliche beginnings we hear all too often of being brainstormed by two guys [much smarter than us] at Stanford University. Back in 2004 Adam Monsees and Adam Bowen began their foundation as graduate design students by asking “What do you really hate about smoking and what do you love ? ” From the start Ploom was focused on e – cigarettes, producing the Ploom and PloomModeltwo.
Despite starting out focusing on e-cigarettes, in 2012 Ploom moved to focusing almost primarily on the PAX Vaporizer which was intended for use with tobacco and other herbs aka “cannabis flower” after realizing potential in the niche of the dry herb vaporizer space.
The PAX Vaporizer was a bigger hit for Ploom than their e-cigarettes. With less regulatory hurdles the attention quickly shifted to making the PAX Vaporizer Ploom’s flagship product.
During this time vaping dry herb was not the market it is today with only a handful of companies such as Storz & Bickel, Davinci and Firefly ( all of which besides Storz & Bickel were also bringing their first generation releases to market) giving these first movers a large piece of a small pie.
The original PAX Vaporizer ruled the roost for cannabis consumers looking for something they could tote around. It was the only practical portable vaporizer and made vaping on the go as easy as it was for the time.
For every action there is a reaction and a few years thereafter the competition started heating up and moving in with good portable vaporizers of their own. Davinci, Arizer, Firefly ….. Even Storz & Bickel stepped into the mix with the Crafty and Mighty Vaporizer, released in 2014.
PAX 2 Vaporizer Release
PAX improved on their initial release and the PAX 2 was released March 10, 2015 at a whopping $279 (for reference it is $149 today). In shiny new vaporizer fashion the PAX 2 was a hit for those attuned to the dry herb vaporizer space.
The PAX 2 was 25% smaller than the original PAX and boasted some notable improvements like the flush mouthpiece (the PAX one original mouthpiece was prone to flying off as you had to pop it out to turn the device on, if lost your night was ruined and the device would not power off)
The new recessed mouthpiece had lip sensing technology letting the device know when you were going to draw and ramp up the temp and also had the temperature adjustment built into the mouthpiece so you didn’t have to remove it like on the original. Now I don’t think you are here to read about the differences between the PAX and PAX 2, but let’s just say holding and using the PAX and the PAX 2 side by side you could tell a difference.
Even better for PAX they dropped the price on their original vaporizer and continued to sell both models. PAX was the first manufacturer in a series of trends which other vaporizer manufacturers followed; The first generation vaporizer was dropped in price ahead of the newer model’s release.
PAX 3 Release | Shortly Thereafter
It was not long this time before PAX released yet another updated model, the PAX 3 Vaporizer, only a year and a half later in November 2016. This was a relatively quick turn around for a new vaporizer already and came awfully quick after the Firefly 2 release.
While the PAX 3 Vaporizer was received well, besides the app integration, upgrades were nominal. The PAX 3 was a first in that it replicated an old vaporizer pretty much to the T and called it a different vape. Everything the PAX 3 added were small improvements: Faster heat up times, two variations of kits (Basic Kit vs. Complete Kit) so you could buy upsells such as a half pack oven lid and concentrate chamber. Improvements certainly but not really anything worthy of the major improvements between the PAX and PAX 2.
PAX 4 Vaporizer Release | We say Not in the Cards for 2021
With the fast jump from PAX 2 to the PAX 3, why no PAX 4? It has been over 4 years and there is no new PAX 4 Vaporizer release in sight. So let’s do what we came to do and explore why we probably won’t get a PAX 4 drop anytime soon.
One issue is the cannabis vaporizer technology itself. The basic fundamentals to vaping cannabis, CBD, Hemp, etc.are not super complex. Therefore legacy vaporizers aren’t going to be much different in what they give out in vapor quality compared to their newer counterparts. Their newer counterparts may have more conveniences but that doesn’t constitute the need to throw out your current model PAX which is working great.
Another possibility is that Game theory was taking place in the beginning. If Arizer releases a new vaporizer which hurts PAX sales, then PAX must move quick to release an even newer vaporizer. The leading brands could have been pumping out newer model vaporizers for the sake of being the hot new vape on the block, capturing attention and thus a sales spike. This is exactly what we saw with the Mighty+ release. Many customers traded in their old Mighty for the newer Mighty+ despite is not being much different.
Rising input and labor costs and falling vaporizer prices are another reason new vaporizer releases have tapered off a greatly from a few years back. Today we are seeing more companies get in the fray only to go the way of Ghost Vapes.
Also to be noted is the rise of the boutique artisan vaporizers such as the Tiny Might and RBT Splinter. These are small businesses who are not trying to be large vaporizer conglomerates. These artisans are active members of the vaporizer community and specialize in pumping out a superior vaporizer and end up capturing a loyal base. Kind of like your local brewery versus Budweiser.
An added roadblock is that Apple still does not allow vaporizer apps on iOS. There was a highly anticipated feature on the DaVinci IQ2 Vaporizer which let you know how much you were consuming.
Without an app, features like these will not work and the IQ2 pretty much does the same thing as the original IQ (Davinci has since launched a web app) with more airflow control. While PAX has a web app work around, it is detrimental to an aspiring billion dollar company to not have access to the iOS app store.
PAX Era | A Vape Pen Shining Star
PAX is one of the few manufacturers to have a popular loose leaf vaporizer and a Vape Pen. The PAX Era is one of the most popular vape cartridge pens for oils and PAX utilizes proprietary cartridges for this vaporizer ; meaning you have to use PAX approved cartridges with the PAX Era. The Prefill Cartridge market offers more revenue potential and it has been reported to us from our inside sources at PAX that this is a significantly more important and growing segment of their product line up than the dry herb PAX 2 and PAX 3 Vaporizers. Just as PAX dropped the focus on their e-cigarettes in 2012, it seems that they are focusing more on their Era Pen and how they can break further into the commodity space instead of just the hardware.
In February of 2022 PAX further solidified this by releasing their own Rosin Pods. A play which puts PAX in the cultivation space. Their COO, Steven Jung, stated in a Fast Company article that vaporizers are a race to the bottom and PAX has no inclination to compete in that space.
PAX Vaporizer Durability
PAX Vaporizers last a long time. PAX Labs makes a superior product. Yes they are made in China , but so are alot of things. When you make something in China with high quality inputs, good management and quality control measures you can pump out a great product. I mean come on, the Iphone is made in China. The PAX and Firefly Vaporizers are the highest quality vaporizers I have seen pumped out in China. Yes, Storz & Bickel make way better vaporizers in Germany, but that is a totally different tangent.
In 2019 To the Cloud Vapor Store acquired a slew of PAX 1 Mouthpieces and Oven Lids from PAX Labs. These replacement parts for their first generation vaporizer (circa 2012) were some of our best sellers, which means that 8 years since the release, people were still using their PAX 1 Vaporizer. The logic being people who have a PAX 1 do not need a PAX 4 if they are still content with the original.
Falling Vaporizer Prices = Lower Margins for PAX
Falling prices have been a customer’s friend in the dry herb vaporizer space and the new entrants from companies like Boundless, AirVape and Cloudious9 have forced the premium brands to become more price conscious. These falling prices would mean less profit margin for PAX Labs on a new vaporizer where they have to undergo a bunch of costs to take the PAX 4 to market. I think they will wait it out until vaporizer technology improves, Apple removes the vape ban and they can truly bring something to market which has more to show. They could also just name it the PAX3+ but here I go again.
Drawing From the Mighty and Crafty+ | Storz & Bickel Case Study
In 2018 The Mighty and Crafty Vaporizers went through an overhaul. The Vaporizers were given new white packaging and boasted an increased battery life of 20%. Everyone went nuts. They had to get the new white box Mighty. The new box and improved battery life model made the retailers still holding old inventory super nervous as once word spread of the new packaging no one wanted to buy the old models. These were the same vaporizers as the older models, just with minor improvements and new packaging.
Then at the end of 2019 Storz & Bickel released the Crafty+ , but didn’t release a Mighty+. The Crafty+ only removed alot of the accessories you get with the Crafty, heated up a bit faster and has an even more improved battery life. Other than some additional minor upgrades, It is the same vaporizer. So why did they do an upgrade of the two vaporizers and keep the name, then do another upgrade but only do it the Crafty+ ? Is there a Mighty+ Vaporizer on the way ?
It could be the manufacturers are as confused as we are when they add a number or a plus to or call something an upgraded model.
PAX 4 Release in Time
The PAX 3 has been a solid vaporizer and best seller for a few years now. It is in the same league as the Mighty in terms of popularity for cannabis vaporizer owners and when something is working, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Will PAX give us a new vaporizer in time ? My guess is yes, but with the market coming to some sort of maturity, roadblocks for cannabis vaporizers and profits showing themselves in other areas PAX Labs is currently engaged in, there is no rush to release a PAX 4 Vaporizer.