Okay, I've got readers from LEGO corporate and LEGO Education that check in on the blog, so here's our chance to have an open discussion about the converter cable & legacy block subject. I'll also email my contacts to let them know they might want to look in on the discussion...
For starters, I want to provide some short statements from Lisbeth (in red, edited for length):
"... as of today, I have not heard anything about a retail version that will have the legacy blocks, nor has my immediate supervisor..."
"...we’re not trying to make people cancel pre-orders of retail sets so they’ll order from us. We may serve the hobbyist market, but by and large our primary market is educators. Lots and lots of schools have spent lots and lots of money creating LEGO Robotics labs, and we know that school budgets run the gamut from perpetually underfunded to usually underfunded. My understanding is that this is the biggest reason for the inclusion of the legacy blocks and converter cables in the education sets. Schools are much more likely to be purchasing 4 or 8 or 12 sets, as opposed to the average hobbyist... who is most likely only purchasing one set."
"... there’s no intent to scam anyone... we’ve designed the education versions to work better in the classroom than the retail version would. To protect the investments they’ve already made and to justify further expenditures on LEGO Education robotics, it’s important that educators have a transition plan – moving from the old sets to the new. Legacy blocks, converter cables, etc. help with this, and make the purchase of our set more appealing."
"All the little things – sorting trays, rechargeable batteries – those are all things that make using the LEGO Mindstorms in the classroom that much easier for the instructors (who all need all the help they can get, really, they’re asked to do so much in so little time with so much riding on their success). "
---- What I got from Lisbeth's email was that LEGO Education is focused on the needs of teachers and students -they make decisions about their product that are in the best interest of their specific customer(s). I don't think the two divisions met and talked about ways to make one product more appealing than the other... I think LEGO Education took what they saw being developed and went their own direction with it in terms of components and software to be included. Lisbeth has stated she has heard nothing on this subject when it comes to the retail version, but that doesn't necessarily mean bad news - it just means she doesn't know, so let's not read anything more into the statements than that. That said, I will continue to try and get an official statement from LEGO. And as I stated earlier, LEGO has shown they are serious about listening to the customer and I have no doubt they will listen to well-written and logical discussions on this subject.
I'm going to pull back on this one and let the comments/discussions go where they may (within limits). I will inform LEGO and LEGO Education about this post so they can check in if they so choose.