Arduino LLC and Arduino Srl have settled their legal disputes, and will reunify under an Arduino Holding company and a not-for-profit Arduino Foundation.
At the World Maker Faire New York, the Arduino LLC (Arduino.cc) and Arduino Srl (Arduino.org) organizations announced they have signed a settlement agreement concerning the legal dispute that has, for the past two years, split the open source MCU-oriented Arduino hardware community in two. The forked entities will reunite before the end of the year under a new “Arduino Holding” company and not-for-profit “Arduino Foundation.” The identical announcements were posted at Arduino.cc and Arduino.org.
Massimo Banzi and Federico Musto at World Maker Faire, NY 2016
It was a reassuring site for Arduinistas to see Arduino LLC’s Massimo Banzi and Arduino SRL’s Federico Musto appear on stage together to announce they had “settled their differences.” The open source Arduino IDE, which is used by a huge community of Arduino compatible projects, as well as official Arduino products, had begun to fork earlier this year. Fortunately, the divergence is fairly slight, and it should be relatively easy for the Arduino Foundation to release a unified IDE.
In addition to maintaining the IDE, the foundation will “foster the open-source movement by providing support for a variety of scholarships, community and developer initiatives.” The job of Arduino Holding, meanwhile, is to “become the single point of contact for the wholesale distribution of all current and future products.”
Beyond that, the details of the reunification are unclear, including leadership roles, headquarters, and development focus. However, in light of the two organization’s differing market strategies over the past two years, there would appear to be potential synergy by combining the LLC’s strong community connection with the LLC’s strength in corporate partnerships and hardware innovations. Doing so might suggest embarking on a segment-oriented marketing approach with one group focusing on the open source and maker communities, while another targets chip and device manufacturer partnerships, along the lines of what Canonical has done in recent years.
Arduino Srl was formerly the Smart Projects manufacturing unit of Arduino, but split off as a separate enterprise in early 2015, led by Musto and Arduino co-founder Gianluca Martino. The company had an advantage in that it could legally sell Arduino branded boards throughout the world. By comparison, Banzi and the other original Arduino holdouts were forced to re-organize as Arduino LLC, which could legally sell under the Arduino brand only in the U.S. Elsewhere, Arduino LLC has sold identical products under the Genuino brand.
The one constant among new products from both sides is the support for faster Cortex-M4 processors, as well as WiFi, and not always by using MIPS/OpenWrt add-ons. Thanks in part to more advanced MCUs, the new Arduinos are not only adding WiFi, but also in some cases, Bluetooth and NFC.
Dueling Arduinos expand Arduino horizons
The Arduino community has for the most part remained loyal to Banzi’s Arduino LLC, which in 2015 launched an Arduino Zero follow-on to the Uno, as well as a WiFi Shield for Arduino boards. In April 2016, Arduino LLC unveiled a tiny, $35, MKR1000 board with built-in WiFi supported by a new Arduino IoT website.
Arduino LLC followed up with an Arduino Create code editor and Arduino Cloud platform. The IoT-focused announcements were backed up with a new IoT Manifesto, led by a renewed call for open source technology along with guidelines for sustainability and fairness.
Arduino LLC’s MKR1000 (left) and Arduino Yún Shield
This year, Arduino LLC also introduced an Arduino Yún Shield. The add-on board enables users of older Arduino boards to add Linux-driven WiFi, as well as Ethernet and USB ports.
Musto’s Arduino Srl has been more prolific in introducing new hardware. In 2015, Arduino Srl released a new version of the Linux-enabled Arduino Yún SBC called the Arduino Yún Mini, and later shipped a Linux-based Arduino TIAN board, among other new products.
Left to right: Arduino Srl’s Yún Mini, Industrial 101, and Uno WiFi
This year, Arduino Srl released an Arduino Industrial 101 SBC, which runs Linino Linux on an Arduino-branded version of the MIPS-based Chiwawa WiFi module. However, it also announced several wireless boards that don’t run Linux. The first was an Arduino Uno WiFi board that uses the popular ESP8266 WiFi SoC.
Arduino Srl’s Star Otto (left) and Primo
Shortly afterward at the Bay Area Maker Faire in May, Arduino Srl joined with STMicroelectronics to release a graphically-rich Arduino STAR Otto SBC, based on the 32-bit STM32F469 MCU, and offering WiFi, MIPI-DSI, audio, and camera links. It also released the Arduino Primo, which similarly offers WiFi without Linux. The Primo features an ESP8266 for WiFi and Nordic Semiconductor’s Cortex-M4F nRF52 wireless SoC for BLE, NFC, and IR. A smaller, disc-shaped Primo Core product skips the ESP8266 and the WiFi.
Arduino Srl is also experimenting on the firmware side. In May, the company joined with Runtime to announce plans to develop an open source, Bluetooth savvy Apache Mynewt RTOS for both the Primo and STAR Otto boards, as well as other 32-bit MCUs.
Testimonials from Banzi and Musto
“Today is one of the best days in Arduino history,” stated Massimo Banzi, Co-Founder of Arduino LLC. “This allows us to start a new course for Arduino made of constructive dialogue and disruptive innovation in the education, Makers and IoT fields. The Arduino Foundation will allow us to champion the core values of the Arduino Community within the open-source ecosystem and to make our commitment to open-source stronger than ever. This is really a new beginning for Arduino!”
Arduino LLC’s Massimo Banzi (left) and Arduino Srl’s Federico Musto
(click images to enlarge)
“Of course, we are thrilled to resolve the issues that have taken place over the past couple of years, and the team is working together to continue to offer the best open hardware and software,” stated Federico Musto, CEO & President of Arduino Srl. “We know how passionate our partners and developers are about Arduino, and the growth and loyalty has been astonishing. Arduino developers will continue to see amazing technical developments including NFC, BLE, voice controls, and more, to fuel the IoT growth and other innovations.”