Historical Perspective – The Smoktech Story
Newcomers to the vape world will recognize Smoktech, or SMOK as the company now markets itself, as the dominant force in Chinese vaping. They've long held the dominant position in the clearomizer market, delivering three successive hits in the popular TFV series. There's also a host of mod offerings, from the popular Alien, XCube, and G-PRIV series to the innovative Skyhook and Treebox. But in the beginning, SMOK trailed well behind other Shenzhen powerhouses like Kanger, Aspire, and even Joye.
Smoktech started off humbly enough in 2010, manufacturing cartomizers for early 510-style cigalikes and carto tanks (the predecessor of clearomizers). As one of only two companies to dive heavily into the technology nearly all vapers were using at the time, it would stand to reason the company would achieve quick growth and market saturation. That wasn't necessarily the case – even though SMOK developed some of the first dual-coil vape heads, most users agreed that their competitor Boge produced more reliable and better-tasting cartos.
From there, SMOK found some modest success with the Vmax, its first mod. This tubular mod could provide a whopping (for the time) 15 watts of power on a single 18650 cell and kept with the cylindrical mod shape that was dominant in the days before box mods. Again, though, they were overshadowed – this time by the ambiguously-branded Vamo, which was produced by a handful of manufacturers and essentially did the same things at a fraction of the price.
In 2013, SMOK scored its first hit with the Aro clearomizer. Styled like a Kanger Evod, the Aro was more rugged, with a metal cover encasing a glass inner tank with juice windows for users to keep an eye on e-liquid levels. This was a step up from the all-plastic inner and outer tank design of the Evod, and once users realized they could swap in Kanger heads (SMOK still hadn't figured the coil thing out), they took off. A knockoff of Joye's eGo Twist, the Smok Winder, was a popular variable voltage stick battery for users quickly abandoning cigalikes for more powerful technology.
The following year saw the budding giant floundering a bit, experimenting with Bluetooth mods and social media platforms that never really took off.
In 2015, though, SMOK (now stylized in all caps) really took off. The TFV4 clearomizer revolutionized the throwaway coil tank market and launched the third generation of clearomizers. Innovations included convenient top-fill capabilities and a unique hinged top cap that didn't have to be unscrewed (no more taking your tank off your mod and taking it apart to refill!) and the first triple-and-quad-coil disposable heads. The tank won Guide to Vaping's Clearomizer of the Year prize, and started an unprecedented run at the top of the vape tank food chain that continues to this day.
The quality of SMOK mods also improved during this time with products like the promising, yet finicky M series being replaced by the XCube, revolutionary for its "firing bar" that occupied the whole side of the mod and a top-facing screen. With varying success, SMOK launched other box mods like the touchscreen G-PRIV, the wood-cased Treebox, and eventually the Alien series that would grow to become one of the most popular mid-level high-power boxes on the market.
The TFV series continued, with the TFV8 Cloud Beast followed by the TFV12 Cloud King, each pushing the envelope with larger and more powerful coils capable of utilizing the 150 watts or more of power the company's boxes were now delivering. And, finally, the coils in the tanks were firing on all cylinders, delivering the vaping experience that early experiments had always aspired to.
With SMOK products continuing to fly off the shelves as we approach the midpoint of 2017, we can say with confidence that it appears SMOK will remain relevant well into the foreseeable future.