Is Makeblock dead?


#1

Hi all,
It seems to me that Makeblock have completely lost track of their original idea - the one we all loved and supported. These days they’re just creating uncreative toys that don’t builds skills or teach you anything. They’re basically competing with everyone else instead of going with what made them unique. To me they seem like a great example of a company that is dying?

  • Some weeks ago I were at Shenzhen Maker Faire and Makeblock was not one of the exhibitors. That’s just crazy?
  • Today I looked for a part that I need (Linear Motion Rail) and they’ve dropped it from the product line. What gives?
  • They keep launching new websites, but every iteration has been worse the the previous one. Don’t they even care?
  • They obviously don’t know anything about how to keep your rating with the search engines, but why did they stop replying to questions in this forum?

I’m puzzled. They had such a great product. They were a unique example of Chinese innovation within the hardware business. They even went public and sold stock from what I remember. They exported across the entire globe and had local resellers all over the place. All the resellers have now left them and the webshops are either closed or just selling out surplus. It’s obvious that they’re no longer actively selling Makeblock.

What happened?


#2

How do you know that? Community seems to be not as active as for some years / month - but I hope it is just temporarly or moved to Facebook group or somewhere else.


#3

Hi jenschr,

I knew MakeBlock by a Kickstrater of the Neuron product. The inovation of this product is not comparable to what is on the market. Is there a lot of resources? No, the product is expensive but only my imagination and time is my limit. Makeblock has to adjust their product according to some of my advice because I participate in the forum. The product is young and I hope it will grow but without a user pool, Makeblock remains a company like the others ($$$).

Otherwise, I have a mBot and product development is regular. The support is good and I have nothing to say. However, maybe I will have surprises in the future but I also had surprises with Nintendo and the WII. Where are the games ??? Why does not Sega build a console?

Makeblock seems like a company looking to make a place among the big ones like Lego (Mindstorm). Makeblock must produce for everyone sir. Yes, they will be less innovative. However, it will make more money and more research and development.

For the moment, I wish good luck to Makeblock and you are better not to make me regret my kit ALL-IN-ONE of Neuron;)

Sorry for my bad English ;(


#4

Example for that? I keep using the same web sites for years now.

Did you run a statistic on that? From what I observe, tech support is active as usual (could be a bit better I admit)

Examples for that? I can get the latest stuff from my resellers in Europe just fine.


#5

@Andreas You cannot mean that the site works well? Please show me a working link to the Linear Motion Block or the Linear Motion Guide from this link? http://learn.makeblock.com/en/mechanical-parts The same applies to about 20 other parts and it’s not the same error for all. I mean - why would anyone bother to check this? Oh wait - it’s their bread and butter…

I just tried emailing them regarding this, but their main email info@makeblock.com (listed on all pages) returns this:

550 Ip frequency limited. http://service.exmail.qq.com/cgi-bin/help?subtype=1&&id=20022&&no=1000725

Reporting-MTA: dns; googlemail.com
Arrival-Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2018 14:25:54 -0800 (PST)
X-Original-Message-ID: CAGFRtCMnh8yUS9_Ywvt1ioy9YqNxXvWaD4xkM4ftcQiUcDhitA@mail.gmail.com

Final-Recipient: rfc822; info@makeblock.com
Action: failed
Status: 5.0.0
Remote-MTA: dns; mxbiz1.qq.com. (163.177.89.176, the server for the domain makeblock.com.)
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550 Ip frequency limited. http://service.exmail.qq.com/cgi-bin/help?subtype=1&&id=20022&&no=1000725
Last-Attempt-Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2018 14:25:58 -0800 (PST)

Regarding resellers deserting them, try:
http://makeblock.no
https://www.robotshop.com/en/makeblock-parts.html (much less parts than before, few new parts)
https://store.mansteri.com/en/catalogsearch/result/index/?ajaxcatalog=true&cat=&&q=makeblock (barely stocking a few parts)

I could go on. It’s not very hard… Regarding tech responding in this forum - do they really? I haven’t seen any and you’d think at least one of their employees would respond to a post with such a click-bait title as the one above? If you check out the Makeblock Taoboao store https://makeblock.world.taobao.com you’ll find several parts that are not on the .COM website.

I had so hoped to meet them at Shenzhen Maker Faire, but instead they left the stage open to copycats that try to leech of their (really good) product. I guess I’m just frustrated. They could do so much better?


#6

Hi jenschr,

I am sorry for letting you down in several aspects. Since we are only technical support, may not be able to answer all your confusion. But we have provided feedback to colleague in related department, hopefully they will answer you properly.

For the Linear Motion Block and the Linear Motion Guide. The linear motion block is still available for sell and its link on learn website works. The Linear Motion Guide is not available any more, so the link on Learn website can’t be accessed, we will delete this part on learn website, thanks for your reminder. We also have plan to improve the learn website information, please kindly keep an eye.

As for the mail bounce when sending email to info@makeblock.com. As far as I know there is no receiving problem for this email. Anyway, we have already forwarded this case to the department who in charge of this email address. Hopefully they will check and fix it.

Makeblock keeps going. During the process, it is normal that there will be decision to eliminate some old products and develop new products. Thank you for your constant attention and encouragement. We will keep improving.


#7

@tec_support Come on… I gave you the link that did not work. Why don’t you click on it rather than point out that “if you go to site X and Y and do your voodoo…”. It is highly irrelevant that the link works on the Learn-site when it link does not work on the main site. This applies to those two and 20 other products. Why not take it seriously and fix it rather than coming up with lame excuses?

Also - I post the complete bounce message that I received and you STILL say it’s not a problem? You know nothing about email, do you?

I have no problem with you cancelling products (or loosing focus) but I do find it odd that you do not understand friendly advice when you get it?


#8

@Crackel I’ve been using Makeblock since just after their first Kickstarter in 2012. Back then they had a really solid focus on their core business, they had really intelligent support staff and they cared about customer feedback. If you posted something, you’d get a reply within a day. Now it took Makeblock more than 2 months to reply to this message. That’s not very professional, is it?

Like I said - I think they have a great product, but they seemed to have a better idea of where they were going back then.


#9

Hi jenschr,

Yes, we did click the link you sent.
For the linear motion block, please visit this link again have a try.
For the Linear Motion Guide, it did offline before, but we have consulted the product manager, they have plan to sell it again asap. Please kindly keep an eye!

For the other mistakes, we are going to do a complete checking on learn website. It is true that there are variable problems on the website. We will gradually improve.
For the info email, we have consulted our IT engineer, there was a problem sometime before (cause: the server IP lettering frequency exceeds Tencent mailbox limit), everything is normal now. Feel free to send email to info@makeblock.com if there is any concerns, and kindly let us know once this is still problem. (If you need any technical support, please kindly send email to tec-support@makeblock.com).

Actually, we are appreciated with your advice. Regarding to the advice in several aspect,has been provided to related departments. Welcome to provide more suggestions to info email or on the forum.


#10

Both links to the linear motion items work.

I did a test mail to info@makeblock.com, works fine, does not bounce.

I think it is normal that retailers go out of business or change their product line. I have some counter examples:

  • makeblockshop.eu has the whole product range
  • the two major electronic online shops in Germany carry >60 Makeblock items each.

I don’t get your point about the taobao.com site … how is that even related to Makeblock? The whole domain seems offline to me.

It seems to me that you base your anger on issues which I can not replicate.


#11

@Andreas Come on… Please read what the bounce-email said. Makeblock were over their “Ip frequency limited” and the server returned that error. It does not mean that they have not resolved it and that you cannot get an email through when trying at a later time?

Makeblockshop.eu is a bad example. They were started in 2017 as you can see from this http://web.archive.org/web/*/makeblockshop.eu

Compare that to http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://makeblock.no that was around since 2014. I spoke with the owner, so I know from the inside why he had to close. I’m not “just saying this”?

Taobao is the chinese equivalent of Ebay. It’s massively huge and what I say is that it’s better maintained than makeblock.com. Here’s a presentation that shows how they completely squeezed Ebay (and others) out of the Chinese market: https://www.slideshare.net/y_pinkinelli/taobao-42676821


#12

Concerning the bounce mail: I find it a bit strange to conclude that Makeblock is dead because they have a mail server hickup. Same as concluding Amazon is dead because they had a server outage last year.

You say that retailers are quitting Makeblock, I bring a counter example with the complete Makeblock stock and and you call that a bad example? I accept that your example shop had reasons quitting, but some other shops have reasons to start, so what? I showed Makeblock to multiple people in the last year, and they ordered stuff from multiple vendors with no problem.

I can’t tell about Taobao because I can not access it from here … but on eBay Germany I find 442 open offers right now.

Looking at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/makeblock.com I find that the interest in their web page is trending up since 6 months, and their ranking is better than competitors such as Ozobot or Seeed.

Also I find the tech support here in the forum quite helpful. It’s not perfect, but compared to other vendors it is pretty ok.


#13

I believe that the following would give present and future users a level of comfort in using makeblock products:

  • twice a year makeblock gives a statement, on this forum, of what sensors/modules are supported on each platform (mcore - megapi)
  • once a year makeblock gives a statement, on this forum, on what their plans are for the next year (hardware and software)
  • once a year makeblock does a poll of what users want for this product line. (example color sensor for mcore - megapi, not just megapipro: and IR emitter, not just receiver) and commits to completing the top X items.

#14

Hi jenschr,

I am regularly forum and I did not see your answer.

For my part, I always had good service and good listening from the support and Makeblock directly. There may be forgetfulness but that does not seem to be regular or I do not feel the problem that you seem to live.

A forum is a place of exchange where the community participates and answers questions. The support is there to help the community and answer some specific post. If you need help from Makeblock, the email works fine. However, I do not expect to receive only responses from Makeblock on this forum.

I believe you can continue to communicate with Makeblock and the forum users. Together we will probably have the answers to your questions.


#15

Dear Jens,
How are you? This is Kenny Wang from Makeblock. I am the head of Makeblock Europe and Africa.
Nice e-meeting you.
Firstly, I apologize for the annoying and confusing experiences you had met now. Please allow me to explain in details on the questions you asked.

  1. Makeblock did not attend the Shenzhen Maker Faire since we were making the launch of the lastest product"Codey Rocky"in same time period;
    Please find the information of Codey Rocky as below:
    http://codeyrocky.makeblock.com/en/
    Codey Rocky is an entry-level coding robot for STEM education, suitable for children ages 6 and up. The combination of easy-to-use robotics hardware with graphical programming gives all children the opportunity to take their first steps into the world of code
  2. For the missing links, we will do a complete checking on learn website. It is true that there are variable problems on the website. We will gradually improve.
  3. For the layout of the new official website, we are making some major updates on it. It is still on the progress. If you have any query please feel free to contact with info@makeblock.com (if there is still problem to send email to info, please let me know).
  4. For the delay happens on the reply of the posts, We are really sorry about it. We really appreciated your support and attention; It’s our pleasure to have a fans like you to devote on the spread of STEM and innovation things as Makeblock is doing. We will do our best to improve ourselves.
  5. For the sales or partner info. for Nordics. i will send it to you later on and get you connect with them;
    For any further questions ,you are free to contact with me by: kenny.wang@makeblock.com or my linkedin.
    Thanks again for your support on Makeblock.

Best Regards!
Kenny


#16

Hi rojoamigo,

Thanks for your valuable suggestion. We will consider this.
Actually, when there is update on software, we will synchronous to sns platform like Facebook.
For the whole suggestions, we will share them to the operation department. Thanks again.


#17

@makeblock Now that’s the kind of reply I had hoped for! Thanks Kenny. I should say sorry for the negative title in my post. Based on the tone, I’m sure you can see that I was frustrated when I wrote it. I’m frustrated with seeing the company spending all time and resources on (what I think is) the wrong things. I had really hoped to see you at Shenzhen Maker Faire to get a chance to talk to Jasen or others in the company.

I think Makeblock has a great core product and I’m sad to see all attention go to products like Codey Rocky. It’s not an original product that builds on the company strengths. It’s just “another STEM product” that will get lots of attention when launched and then be forgotten. This is what happened with the mBot series. I wrote about this on my blog http://flashgamer.com/hardware/comments/makeblock-mbot-review back in September 2016. About half a year ago I got an email from an institution that had purchased mBot’s for more than 50k USD. Only after receiving the robots did they realise that the promised Curriculum for the robot did not exist and that they had to build it from scratch. There are many things still missing from mBot. Now it’s a half finished product that is difficult to use. It needs more work, so focusing on new products will not help the sales.

mBot and mBot Ranger is a product that plays to Makeblock’s strengths. It’s part of the construction system and like LEGO, you can expand it. Codey Rocky is a pure consumer product that makes it look like Makeblock is no longer focused on it’s core business. It cannot be expanded with Makeblock parts. It makes it look like Makeblock are moving away from construction toys/tools and towards kids/consumers. If you instead focused on making great examples using the new pneumatic system, thousands of schools teaching automation would be interested. If you focused more om building great software and original code libraries, IT schools (like the one I teach in) would be interested.

In terms of sales, this is a much larger market since it’s long term customers and do not require constant Kickstarters. I really hope that Makeblock will focus it’s attention on what it’s good at!


#18

I agree with much of your latest post @jenschr. Putting some more attention to the mBot / Ranger product line with strengthen what is a nearly unique product line. E.g. Lego has something comparable, but at a much higher price and with less flexibility (although its a bit more durable).

Why not do a mBot V2 with a build-in LED matrix at the top and a color coded line follower? That would beat codey bot and still would have access to all the extensions.

I have great success using mBots together with the mobile software to get kids started on programming and robots within seconds. Build on that, Makeblock.

Fix the known issues with the documentation, hardware (buzzer problem … does that ring a bell), software (such as connectivity issues with mBlock, just look at the number of questions around that in the forum).


#19

We have noticed that you are more active lately and that is appreciated.

We look forward to you turning these words into actions. A matrix of what modules are supported on what platform and if support is mblock or Arduino extension would be a good start.

As a sign of good faith we have just purchased another ultimate 2.


#20

Mr Kenny Wang:

In our multiple decades of joint ventures with the educational market, we learned six important things:

  • they do not have much money
  • teachers do not have much free time to design/build
  • teachers have little control of the curriculum
  • teachers have a passion when it comes to their profession and expect the same from their vendors
  • teachers expect a professional product (hardware/software/support) to be delivered to them with full documentation
  • the product must be modular, flexible and durable as their requirements constantly change

When we were researching what robotic platform to use, we ran each platform against these six criteria and the two finalists were VEX and Makeblock.

The strengths of Makeblock included free software (scratch and Ardunino mode) and a family of products (mbot to ultimate) that were totally customizable. With all due respect, the codey rocky meets few of the criteria. Even the airblock has at least three physical forms (air, land,and sea).

Examples of the ingenuity can be seen on this forum. Users dasansa and chuckmcknight posted about using the standard mbots to solve a maze. The both used the line follow and ultrasonic sensors in different ways. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. A major goal of any educator.

I hope to see Makeblock up its professional status, fill-in the missing support infrastructure and announce the next generation of compatible mbot to ultimate products