Today's topic is a rather depressing one. You buy a new piece of gear and the first day it's already plummeting toward worthlessness. Depreciation, in short, is a bitch. My own woes stem from building up close to $100,000 worth of audio gear and finding myself lucky to sell it off for 20% of what I paid.
Now it's a rare item that actually gains value over time. The odd classic bit of gear, a particularly good sports car, high end watches. Most of it runs a pretty similar life cycle to a car. Most gear looses 20% to 30% of its value in the first year. After that it tapers off a bit until it's worth about 20% of cost.
Where this is really felt is when there's a paradigm shift in the industry. When the majority of folks adopt new technology and it's only a small old guard that's still interested in doing things the old fashioned way, it really becomes a buyer's market. In my case, I bought a mid sized analog console in 2006, right before digital found its way down to the masses. Now in 2013 even though it's still very clean and functioning perfectly, I'll be lucky if I can get 25% of what I paid for it. Probably less.
That's not to say that some things won't become hot items again in a few decades when they become "vintage". I just don't have time to wait around to recoup my investment. I need to go digital too and I can't count on selling off my old stuff to help me do it.
Even if you pay very close attention to trends it can still be pretty difficult to tell what's going to sweep the industry and what's just a fad. But no matter what the current state of things it's always a good idea to keep turning over your gear in mind. This isn't so much an issue for the studio guys but for the live guys who's stuff is out there taking a beating it's much better to sell it while it's still got some miles left in it than to hang on to it until you can't get anything for it.