I have met many people who got started....and stopped with a Mr. Beer kit. One of our club members still uses hers occassionally and makes really acceptable beers with it. Another person who had disastrous results, met me at a local wine tasting. When discussing the wines, I stated that I was really a beer person and if he ever wanted to try brewing again, to get in touch. Fast forward 3 years...he's now a brewing machine, a BJCP judge and integral member of his local home brew club.
Our LHB shop said his sales of new equipment really fell off when the new Costco opened in our town. (They were selling Mr. Beer kits) Now the number of "kit" sales is surprising him. I believe (based on what he's now stocking) that his beer gear & ingred. sales must be way up. Subsequently, our little brew club has grown from about 10 to over 30 members in the past 8 months.
I love finding folks who are trying to brew with a Mr. Beer. I encourage them with stories of how many of us started with little kit beers, share some homebrew and offer to help or answer questions. I'm getting about an 80% conversion rate.....HALELUYAH!
Yes, Mr. Beers have made a lot of stinky beer, but it's also let a lot of people see/taste/experience the magic that is brewing and yearn for more.