Having not taken a break, I totally agree.
Oversimplifying, I think plenty of enterprising folks saw dollar signs after the “custom Tfue keyboard” video from TaeHa made the rounds in PC gaming space, and took cues from designers in the hobby who presented their ICs in a very professional manner.
Not that I’m on GH very much, but there does seem to be an expectation of highly professional presentation at this point.
I will say I do still see the occasional really cool idea from an individual or small design team, but those do seem the exception rather than the rule these days. I suppose that’s one of those “suffering from success” kinda growing pains the space is going through.
Keebs really blew up for a couple years when a bunch more folks around the world were suddenly inside trying to work and study from home - like insane acceleration and development there for a minute - but like the vape craze no segment can keep expanding like that. Things slowed down, many vendors closed, and I think those that remained tended to be those with active, responsive business strategies as opposed to passionate hobbyists alone.
Could just be my perception, but Prevail Key Co. closing was like a marking point that the brief but brilliantly burning hobbyist keyboard boom was over. By the same token, the acquisition of Drop by Corsair was a recognition by big business that there is ongoing money to be made in the space.
Quite a pendulum swing in both directions, but at least for now it seems like we’ve stabilized in a place where custom(izable) keyboards are now as mainstream as designer shoes, computer builds, or fountain pens.
Kind of a mixed bag. I do wish passionate creators got a little more spotlight, but I do love how accessible a great typing experience is these days. For what my tray-mounted Ducky One with MX Blues cost in 2016, I got a full CNC’d gasket-mounted tri-mode keyboard with RGB and a polycarbonate plate.
At very least, the hobby still seems quite friendly to individual passionate creators, if not being primarily driven by them.