With this move, says Mark Larson, now Digi-Key’s Vice Chairman, the distributor is aiming to provide a service and an environment tailored to the needs, and to the design starting points, of the maker movement. However, the intent is also to avoid “fragmentation” of the Digi-Key brand; in effect the maker.io site acts as a portal or entry point in which the search functions are targeted for the maker mindset. There continues to be access to the full catalogue of parts stocked by the distributor, and fulfilment is then carried out by Digi-Key’s main site.
Larson says that the overall theme continues to be “prototype to production” but that maker.io is constructed to present a more natural starting point to the alternative design approach, and the mantra is modified to “maker to market”. The site is organised to mirror the progress of a project that might originate in that model. It presents both products and services, along with design support – including free or very low cost tools – and project examples, in a series of stages; concept & research, evaluation & design, prototyping & funding, marketing & production, through to distribution and support. The site aims to give guidance and assistance on all the aspects of taking a concept to market that might not be available to someone not formally employed by a company “in the business”. There are, for example, articles on marketing, on migration to production, and on crowdfunding.
Maker.io is available now, and as it transitions from beta status, Larson anticipates having it running with the same breadth of international language support as the main site, in the second quarter of 2017.
In a different direction, Digi-Key has also increased its focus on industrial automation, with an increased range of product, and a dedicated landing page and product selector for “Industrial automation, Controls and Safety”. Larson adds that the company is working towards.