Through a U.S. manufacturing partnership with Adafruit and the launch of a new global sister brand called Genuino, Arduino.cc today announces a couple of big moves that address the manufacturing challenges that have emerged for the company over the past few months.
Much of 2015 has seen the open-source board maker defending itself from its former manufacturing partner, which recently claimed ownership of the brand, launched its own Arduino product line and website, and worked to bar distributors from buying Arduino products from other manufacturers.
Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi and team have not addressed the situation publicly aside from an overview in March, due to its legal nature. Meanwhile, distributors and the Arduino community have struggled to get new Arduino boards from the founding group.
The new manufacturing relationship with Adafruit, announced at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015, solves U.S. access for the organization. It moves production of new boards from Italy to the United States, at Adafruit’s Manhattan location, allowing for quicker access to Arduino products for U.S. distributors. Banzi states that production will begin this July, with the facility creating core Arduino products including the venerable Uno.
Arduino’s announcement of Genuino is even more significant for the global community. An alleged letter sent to all distributors by the former manufacturing partner in late 2014 instructed them to sign an agreement that they would not purchase Arduino boards from any other manufacturer in order to remain an official Arduino partner, otherwise they would be subject to a fine of €100,000 ($113,000). But it wasn’t until the conflict between the two groups came to light that the ramifications of this agreement became apparent — rather than protecting the original Arduino group from cheap knockoffs made elsewhere as seemed to be the case, it instead put the distributors in a position where they were unable to support the group they thought they were siding with.
While some distributors did not sign the agreement, many found themselves in a challenging position of either purchasing boards from the former partner, or taking a loss to support the original group.
The sister brand Genuino (a variation of the “-uino” suffix used in many Arduino projects, and also the Italian word for “genuine”) allows the Arduino.cc organization to resume production of boards in all markets, opening an outlet for distributors in markets where legal proceedings are still being determined, and also allowing for more localized manufacturing. The new brand will carry the same products that Arduino users are familiar with, meaning some regions will soon see a Genuino Uno in a familiar teal and white aesthetic.
The announcements come with the note that many other partnerships will be coming soon. Banzi also announced the first product designed and produced in their Bangalore, India, office, called Modulino. The much-anticipated Arduino Zero is announced to be available June 9.