We value critical feedback!
Getting a post on Hacker News is both a blessing and a curse. It’s excellent exposure but it also brings out a lot of criticism from the denizens of the internet.
But without critical feedback we will never know what areas to improve! So we love it. I understand it too, I’ve commented about things on the internet also.
But rarely do valid and considered responses come back, so I wanted to change that. I’m going to pick out some of the points raised in the post and try to reply to them here. The answers aren’t going to fully satisfy everything, I’m pulling the curtains back a little bit but still not revealing everything. As always, I’m doing my best here.
Good luck to them. My cigarette-packet maths says that the BoM cost is about $12 at Shenzhen prices. If they gain any traction, they’re going to get killed by the Chinese clone merchants. They don’t appear to have much in the way of defensible IP, so the healthy margins on that $49 retail price are going to get squeezed hard.
The bill of materials isn’t far off, it actually costs us a bit more than that, the OLED and battery are pretty expensive, as is the Atmega 32u4. But, parts aren’t everything, we also have to pay for the assembly cost and the shipping from the factory to our warehouse.
The retail margins we charge allow us to make profit, of course, that is what a business does. You can’t sell something for the cost it takes to make it. We have to pay for the website, advertising, marketing, salaries for 3 people and at the end of the day we need to have profit enough to grow the business.
We use the profit to try and develop a new product and a new website. And truth be told we are just barely breaking even at this point. It’s not easy building a hardware startup.
As far as IP, we do have a trademark so it couldn’t easily be marketed or sold into western markets. But if someone copies us, the true value is in the community and that will be even harder to replicate. And we are prepared if it happens, we will just go back to China, find the factory that is making it and try to get them to be our official supplier (if the quality is good). And of course, we can always come out with a new version.
It’s so niche it’ll fly below everyone’s radar.
I kinda wish that was true, but having a kickstarter that raised almost half a million dollars certainly put us on the radar. We are already aware of one copy, but it lacks quality. They actually contacted us first! More power to them.
$49 is pretty steep compared to a gameboy, which goes for $20, has a massive catalogue, affordable flashcarts, and several decent toolchains (I personally reccomend WLA-DX). And it also doubles as an excellent music production platform (provided you like chiptunes) thanks to LSDJ.
I don’t disagree, but the learning curve for doing development for the gameboy is pretty steep. The Arduboy is intended to give people an easier path to develop some simple games. It’s fun, cute, and accessible. It’s not really intended to be a competitor to “actual” game consoles. Also Gameboy has sold millions of units and been around for over 25 years. I’m sure Arduboy would be pretty cheap by 2040.
I wish this thing wasn’t the size of a credit card; I mean – I understand cuteness and marketability and everything…
…but with buttons that small and close together, for me it would be painful to play for any long period. Heck, I didn’t play my gameboy color for long because it’s smaller size caused my thumbs to ache after a while.
Maybe my hands are just too big.
Don’t knock it before you try it! We haven’t had much complaints from people who have played with it. We designed Arduboy to be sausage finger friendly!
Hi! Could you please make an iPhone case with arduboy in it?
Yes! We actually have a cell phone case manufacturer constantly barking at me to do this. Thanks for reminding me!
The funny this I noticed is that [Pocket] Chip and Arduboy are funded by the same accelerator.
Yep! We love Next Thing Co.! They actually approached us first to have Arduboy powered by their Chip! But at the time they didn’t have enough data sheet available, and it could never be this thin. Maybe in the future! We really do love their graphic design and community focus as well.
You can also program an Arduboy using a Chip or Pocket Chip, so really they are complimentary products! Buy them both, you won’t be disappointed!
$49 seems very expensive. I could get an android device and start learning “programming” by making android games instead for the same cost.
I agree totally. It frustrates the heck out of me because while in China I can buy a fully functional android phone with wifi, bluetooth, GSM, with a USB cable & charger and headphones in a nice box for around $20 USD. And I think, dammit! Why cant we make them that cheap! The fact is, they make millions of units, and have no marketing, no advertising, no website, its really just a factory clearing house making pennies on the dollar. The quality of life of the factory workers may not be ideal either, we took a lot of time sourcing a responsible factory, this has cost associated with it.
If only this had bluetooth / WiFi in it. I think it would have made a wonderful IoT controller.
Oh well… missed opportunity.
The opportunity is still there! We wanted to start simple, and get this thing to market as soon as possible. That was tough enough already. We are looking strongly at bluetooth in the future. Wifi is gonna be tough due to power consumption issues, but we agree this would be awesome for downloading new games and multiplayer capabilities.
It’s pretty awesome (have 2 from Kickstarter) but I don’t see the appeal for anybody but a developer.
We now have over 100 games in our library, that’s 49 cents a game and some of them are a lot better than something you might get in the app store for a full .99. Pretty soon we will have an online game uploader, making the process of switching games much easier for the beginner. But I agree this isn’t going to compete with a playstation 4, however it isn’t meant to.
Yea I think an ATmega is actually a bad choice because it can’t dynamically load code from somewhere else. It’d be neat to be able to have something like an SD card or some other form of swapable storage store the code for a game.
Totally agree. But we wanted to start somewhere that had a large community and Arduino seemed a great place to start. External code execution doesn’t start to get available until ARM6 or 7, and then you’re basically building a GBA competitor, because that is what those systems run. Look online, there are quite a few systems like this, albeit not open source, most are lessthan good quality Chinese game systems.
We are an Open Company!
You’ve heard of open source software, and maybe open hardware… we are sort-of blazing a trail here for an open company.
The goal here is to share as much as possible why we are doing what we do. It’s pretty frustrating to me when you see products on the market and you wonder “why?”. The truth is that behind the scenes the company is often forced into situations that seem weird from the outside, but on the inside it’s mostly motivated by cost structure.
It’s difficult creating a product from scratch. It’s about 100 times harder to make a sustainable business that can support both it’s customers and employees. It’s also my first time doing this so perhaps not surprisingly there are going to be a few bumps in the road.
But at the end of the day, we are here, we are listening and also we respond.
Thank you everyone!