The metal detecting market in South Africa will never be the same. In 2019 Nokta Detectors released the Simplex+, an advanced and fully waterproof metal detector with wireless headphones at an excellent price point. The Nokta Simplex+ was and remains the best value metal detector currently on the market. The Simplex+ metal detector was officially the top-selling metal detector in 2020 and will likely stay in the #1 spot for 2021 and beyond.
Detectorists were initially sceptical, wondering how such an advanced detector at such a low price would stand up in terms of reliability and performance. Almost two years later, the Simplex+ has proven highly reliable. Feedback from experienced detectorists has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of performance and how it stacks up to detectors three times the price. Nokta has stood by its product, bringing out enhanced firmware from time to time, new accessories, and proven that its after-sales and customer service are world-class.
I am sure the massive success of the Simplex+ took all the metal detector manufacturers by surprise, including Nokta. Nokta is now on the map and a force to be reckoned with in the metal detecting market.
Before the launch of the Nokta Simplex+ metal detector to the South African market, there were two main detector brands available to consumers, Minelab and Garrett. Nokta and Fisher were mostly unknown to the metal detecting market and the average South African detectorist.
At that time, Garrett Detectors accounted for the bulk of the entry-level detectors sold in South Africa, and I am sure the world, too, with the Garrett ACE series dominating. Minelab had the market share for the more advanced and pricier metal detectors, such as the Minelab Equinox series with their multi-frequency technology and the various Minelab gold detectors.
When the Nokta Simplex+ launched in South Africa and the world, the Simplex+ was a best seller from day one. There was now an advanced metal detector on the market at the price of other entry-level detectors, which were not waterproof and did not offer wireless headphones. The Nokta Simplex+ is not entry-level. The Simplex+ is waterproof, down to 3 meters, offers wireless headphones, is firmware upgradeable, and has a built-in rechargeable battery and detection features and technologies, making it almost comparable to detectors three times the price.
As a result, the Simplex+ now accounts for the bulk of entry-level metal detector sales and much of the high-end metal detector sales, including multi-frequency metal detectors. Reasons for Simplex+ dominating the entry-level metal detecting market are apparent, but it was also interesting to see how Simplex+ ate into the high-end multi-frequency detector market share. Before making a purchase, the average detectorist does their homework and needs very little input from a dealer, if any, in their buying decision. The bulk of metal detector sales takes place online with no interaction with a dealer before purchase. There are so many videos, groups and forums with all the information, comparisons, and product reviews readily available. As shown on these platforms, the Simplex+ has stacked up well against these higher-end multi-frequency detectors. While the Simplex+ is not a multi-frequency metal detector, many new and existing detectorists could not justify paying three times the price for a multi-frequency detector, despite the benefits of a multi-frequency detector. These benefits are not perceived as being worth paying three times the price.
Several months after the release of the Nokta Simplex+, Minelab released their entry-level detector, the Vanquish, featuring multi-frequency technology. And shortly after that, Garrett also released their multi-frequency detector, the Garrett APEX. These manufacturers, I am sure, were hoping this would stem the flow of the Nokta Simplex+ sales and success. Nokta, I am sure, were also holding their breath. However, there was minimal impact on sales for the Nokta Simplex+. Despite these new entry-level detectors being multi-frequency, they were not waterproof. The bulk of detectorists in South Africa are beach hunters, and with the growth and popularity of the metal detecting hobby, beach finds are becoming more scarce. This has resulted in beach detectorists wading into the water, hunting for old gold that can still be found in the water below the low-tide mark. It would be very risky to take a detector that is not waterproof into the water. An accidental drop or unexpected wave would drown the machine. I believe this is one of the main reasons the Nokta Simplex+ still has the edge over these new entry-level multi-frequency metal detectors and continue to dominate the metal detector market in South Africa.
When Nokta announced the release of the Simplex+ metal detector to the market, Nokta predicted it would shake up and wake up the metal detecting market and benefit all detectorists regardless of which brand of metal detector they prefer. Nokta was correct, and this is evident, especially in the South African metal detecting market, with Nokta Detectors taking on the competition through Metal Detectors South Africa | MDSA, the South African distributors.
A year on from the release of the Nokta Simplex+ in South Africa, we are starting to see competitor brands offering promotions, sales, drastic discounts, and even jumping onto social media. Something never before witnessed in the metal detecting market in South Africa!
This is precisely what Nokta had predicted. The Simplex+ would spark competition, and all detectorists benefit from this regardless of which brand of metal detector they prefer. Increased competition forces manufacturers to innovate, offering new and better detectors, and competitors drop their pricing. As a result, the cost to start the metal detecting hobby has dropped significantly, and we see tremendous growth in this exciting hobby of metal detecting. This is to the benefit of all detectorists, all manufacturers and all-metal detector dealers.
Well done, Nokta. You have done a great service to all detectorists, and we are excited to see what you have in store for us in the future!
Opinion Piece by John Guthrie