Cherry, a long dominant mechanical switch maker, has cast an eye towards the DIY market by offering its switches “in different variants and as a special developer kit.” Although big names like Razer, Corsair, and Logitech sell keyboards to throngs of consumers, there’s another whole class of keyboard enthusiasts who make or mod their own planks. Those people need to buy loose switches, and most could use a little help figuring out exactly which switches to buy and what other components to include.
Of course, you can already get Cherry switches (and many others) from a number of outlets, such as MechanicalKeyboards.com. Further, the mechanical keyboard community is quite large, knowledgeable, and generally quick to share tips and help, so it’s not as if build help isn’t readily available.
So what is Cherry trying to do here?
The obvious answer is that Cherry--wisely--just wants to capitalize on this DIY market a little more directly and cleanly. You can see that in the detailed guidance it gives on its “developer kit” page. Further, the company stated that you can buy, individually or in kits (110 switches per kit), Cherry MX Red, Black, Blue, Brown, Green, Clear, Silent Black, Silent Red, and Speed switches, and its new dev kits are available with Silent Black or Speed switches.
The key, though, is buried down at the bottom of that page. It says, “Currently, only switches without mounting pins (requiring a mount to the keyboard housing) are offered online. Versions with a direct mount for the PCB are only available from Cherry itself.”
In other words, Cherry is keeping a little bit of exclusivity for itself.
Oddly, Cherry is offering its developer kits (€40) only through etailer Reichelt Elektronik (opens in new tab), although you can also buy its switches through Arrow Electronics and Greendich Enterprise.)
A final note: That dev kit page is quite informative for anyone who wants to better understand Cherry's product stack and SKU nomenclature.