LEGO has announced that Mindstorms, the famous long-running robotics range, will be discontinued at the end of 2022. The official announcement is as follows:
Since its launch in September 1998, LEGO Mindstorms has been one of the core ‘Build & Code’ experiences in the company’s portfolio, carrying with it significant brand equity and becoming a stand-out experience for the early days of consumer robotics and leading to current Build & Code experiences such as SPIKE Prime, from LEGO Education’s LEGO Learning System.
However, now having a number of priorities in LEGO Education and other Build & Code experiences, we have decided to focus our resources and future plans by redirecting our Mindstorms Robot Inventor team and their expertise into different areas of the business.
This means the physical Mindstorms Robot Inventor product (51515) and its related elements (88016 and 88018) are to exit our portfolio from the end of 2022, whilst digital platforms – such as the LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor App – will remain live until at least the end of 2024.
We still have strong belief in the Build & Code proposition and will continue to support it through platforms such as SPIKE Prime, and we are continuing to hold on to the trademark for the Mindstorms brand and assessing our future plans together with LEGO Education.
We are sure that this has been a difficult decision for LEGO, but at the same time for many it is not entirely surprising.
When the third version of Mindstorms EV3 was released during 2013, it was the most expensive set released that year and one of only five that cost more than $200. As a result, it was met with high expectations and was a big deal, coupled with factors such as the growing number of adult robotics enthusiasts, among others who wanted a "high-end" LEGO set, not least because it was a significant improvement on the previous generation, NXT.
It seems that when the Robot Inventor (51515) was released two years ago, however, it was just one of dozens of great sets vying for attention on the shelves, so regular LEGO users have been rather more selective, which has meant that it has not stood out in the way that EV3 did.
Also, while it was easier to program and build, in many ways it was a step backwards technologically compared to the EV3 (e.g. fewer ports, tethered cables, no LCD on the hub), so it didn't exactly excite the roboticist niche in the same way that previous iterations did, and of course the competition has played a part, where there are many other cheaper and more capable robotic platforms on the market today.
So, with this announcement we have confirmation that the Mindstorms name will die, which is a shame, but the technology platform will continue to exist and will be improved over time, albeit aimed exclusively at the education sector and not at consumers.
What do you think of the LEGO Group's decision?