This post on the forums  is the best answer I've read yet.
They sell the Pi Zero (W) at such a low price to promote the platform for educational and non-commercial purposes. However, the margins are so low at that price that they cannot afford to sell in bulk. They apparently do offer bulk buys (>500 ) at higher prices.
The few options to buy multiple are to buy kits (which basically pass that bulk pricing in the form of overpriced accessories), or at a higher price (e.g. I see $22 on Amazon), or be very patient and keep ordering.
> However, the margins are so low at that price that they cannot afford to sell in bulk
Typically, ordering in bulk is how you _support_ low margins, by amortizing all the various fixed overheads. What I suspect you mean is 'the margins are negative, and we're hoping to make it up via attach rate.'
I don't think they're planning to make it up at all. I think the point is to make the entry price for beginners and people on low income as affordable as possible. I think people here complaining they can't order them in bulk at $5 or assuming there's some clever business scheme behind it all are kind of missing the point.
BTW has anyone here found the 'introduction video' Techcrunch mentions in the article, that they say makes such a good case for the store? The only one I can find is the music video one that really doesn't make a case for anything. Unless that's the one they mean? Confused.
The aim is to pull in real people with single sales, both to grow their community and support further sales down the line of more powerful hardware.
Bulk selling these to industry for [near]-disposable application doesn't help the organisation or its aims. It also forces them up another rung of production capacity and warehousing, which is a serious expense.
I think they misspoke. I think they didn't mean bulk but really "retail" or "commercially". i.e. small number of units to large number of customers vs. large number of units to small number of customers.
Although this may work in general, it hurts the very purpose of the Pi.
I have an open source project I've been working on for some time, it's based around the Pi Zero W, however, here in the UK it's practically impossible to get more than one Zero W unless you order individually from each site and pay shipping individually for each. Even then, you'll be paying at least £12+shipping per unit. It's wasteful and needless to do all this individual shipping.
Is not just a case of buying individually until I can get all the Pis I need, because once I release, if users have the same issues getting the hardware, the project is pointless.
For now the project is sitting on a shelf until I find an alternative platform or Pi stops this 1 unit per customer "shortage".
So assuming they are selling the zero at cost or a loss, why?
This thread just shows how confusing the situation is, and it isn't even clear to me that it helps in promoting the education side, further it damages the brand and puts people off buying.
Why not have a school and student channel, so that they can buy at $5. And then sell it at a higher cost retail? Everyone knows where they stand, schools can bulk buy $5 zeros, which presumably they can't now. The current system just seems to be a mess.
Microcenter sells them for 5 dollars. This is the first unit. I happen to have one close to my home so I've been able to buy a few of them, I just buy one each time i go there. I am building retropie machines for my friends so i get them for 5 bucks. you can only buy one pi zero w for 5 dollars. but you can always come back and buy more.
That's not how economics works! If they aren't making a loss at $5 then by now they have had plenty of time to ramp up production to meet demand (and save money since more production means lower costs).
The fact that they haven't strongly implies that they are selling it at a loss.
Don't take this too harshly, but the Raspberry Pi foundation's goal is to encourage young children to learn about programming and computer science, not to subsidize the IoT hobbies of wealthy adults who already have careers in computing.
Getting stuff into schools and getting them to use it is difficult. There was a push some years ago for Lego Mindstorms kit in schools. That stuff was very cool but mostly went unused - nobody knew how to use it, let alone create lessons around it.
The RPF's work is better in that it's both cheaper and a more joined up plan with both kit and teacher resources. A big part of their work is running courses for teachers but training people takes time. That goal is expectedly still ongoing. The code club stuff they do seems pretty successful too. I have no doubt they will continue what they are doing and I think it's the correct strategy.
There are plenty of other SBCs out there now (in response to RPi) which can embrace the consumer market as you desire. It sounds like you are looking for something that meets everyone's requirements; a product that makes no compromises in features or cost. I wish you luck.
I'm not in any feasible target market for them anyway because I'm happy to pay significantly more for higher spec SBCs with mainline kernel support, avoiding proprietary boot loaders/threadx and long-obsolete SoCs. The current crop of RK3399 boards are a great example of that.
But I do understand why the lower spec, lower price point devices appeal so much to hobbyists and makers. These people actually buy and use RPis in significant numbers, unlike the schoolchildren whom they keep aiming at and failing to reach. These people are the only reason for the RPi's success.
The RPi folks would be better to acknowledge and take credit for the important part they've been playing in the maker and hobbyist movement and plan their future devices on that basis.
Anecdata rather than a rigorously conducted survey across UK schools. It was very much the consensus amongst my teacher friends when I kicked off a discussion on the topic whilst attempting to donate a handful of them. (I had a bunch spare from doing some speed testing on them.)
Interestingly, they also felt the microbit had been much more successful and accessible, so I guess it's not a lost cause to create a product for that market.
The foundation do publish yearly reviews (not sure if they done a 2018 one yet) on their website with statistics they have gathered.
But it's interesting the microbit was considered more successful in your group. Perhaps having the name of the BBC behind it gave it more weight. Or the fact they gave them away free to younger children.
That's not how finance works either. Moving up from one level of production to another can mean acquiring new warehousing, creating new distribution channels, etc.. Can mean need to increase head count (and thus risk). Risks being left with excess product - eg if a competitor comes on the scene.
Those risks are worth it, perhaps, to achieve higher profit. But if the risks are merely to satisfy some demand for cheap gadgets, rather than meeting the educational aims of your org, then "there's more to life, let someone else do that".
Pretty sure Microcenter sells the Pi Zero for $5 and the Zero W for $10. Still a good deal, and I also pick one up each time I go.
Edit: oops, just checked and the Zero W is indeed on sale for $5. I think this is a recent MC discount though, and the official price is $10, which is still reasonable. It also puts the $15/ea for 2-5 units in a better perspective.
I don't live in the states, but am on a forum of people centered around various projects that (among other things) happen to make use of Pi Zero's
the people who live near MC's are always saying how they just popped into their MC on the way home from work and picked up a (sometimes couple of) $5 zero W.
So yeah while your experience is that $5 zeros don't exist (as is mine since in the UK there are exactly zero B&M stores that sell zeros, with the possible exception of this new RPF store - great if you're in/near Cambridge, sucks for the rest of us) the truth is that there ARE $5 Pi's available from walk-in retail outlets (in your country and possibly now mine too.)
Is a Pi Zero worth $15 to you? If so, buy one (or many). If not, don't.
High-demand cars often sell for well over sticker price. A few recent examples are the Civic Type R, the Focus RS when it was 1-3 years old, the BRZ when it came out... Demand is higher than supply, and vendors (car dealers in my car reference) are profiting from that.
I understand your outrage, but the fact that multiple vendors are selling at this high price means that the market is saying the product is worth it. If you choose the perspective that the Zero is a $15 board which you can occasionally buy for $5, you can be free from spite and simply decide if you want one. Ten bucks and a slightly different perspective is a small price for tinkering and being free from anguish!
It hardly unique in that sense. Flights to Europe 1 Euro (plus airport tax, and booking fees and cabin baggage). Restaurant prices in the States where you are expected to add on 15% tip. Prices advertised before tax. I guess you would need some sort of regulation to real prices up front.
TBH, I never realized just how strange pi pricing was until seeing that web page. 1 for $5, but if you act now, you can get two for the low price of $30! Its really strange and it makes me wonder what the real price in quantity (>500 units) is.
The Pi Zero pricing is entirely to get them into the hands of people. I seem to recall reading somewhere that volume pricing is similar to that of the Raspberry Pi Model A, which makes sense given that they are very similar just smaller.
You can bring a friend (or two) and they can buy one also. I'm in San Diego and last time I drove back from Northern California I just stopped by (it's in Tustin) with my wife and picked up 2. If you need many then of course it doesn't work. I don't think there is any rule about you going back in another day either, although I guess if you went everyday they might notice. They didn't take down any information when I bought them, they just handed them to me.
I got frustrated with the 1 per customer policy of Raspberry Pi Zero so I ended up bulk buying a bunch of Orange Pi Zero's from Ebay and I could not be happier. I found the support materials great, and the addition of an RJ45 port with PoE was a big plus.
See, being able to run "just Linux" is about the main selling point of RPi. It's no secret you can get boards with better performance/price or performance/power, or even build your own RPi at a lower price (not sure about zero). But RPi being just "plug and play" with familiar software platform means that I can just go and link my software skills with physical doohickeys.
Just about every other board out there is just as plug and play as the RPI.
I'm not saying that to downplay the RPI - the community it has around it is great, but long gone are the days of trying to get Linux running on a random arm board. And I should know, I have over 100 different arm machines at my place.
For the Orange Pi Zero, you can just download an Armbian SD card image much like you would with Raspbian - except that unlike Raspbian, everything but the kernel and bootloader is just stock Debian and receives updates straight from Debian. (In theory the next upcoming Debian release should work stock out-the-box, but it's a lot less user-friendly to get working.)
Nice, I had two slugs. The community and Wiki were awesome. I eventually ended up adding a page about soldering a USB wireless card on to one of the unused USB headers on one. The other ran my website and an email server.
The RPi Zero W costs 10.35E. That's more than double the advertised price (I'm ignoring shipping here). It's not a big deal though, I doubt anyone interested in "joining the club" would pass because of the extra 5-6E but the point stands. It's impossible to find the Zero W for the advertised price in many parts of the world.
I get the limitations on manufacturing, costs, margins, etc. But they could just advertise it for 10E, sell it for 10E and actually make a profit that they can use to improve the product, drop prices later, etc. If I end up paying 10E anyway I'd prefer it if the ad didn't tout "Only $5". It's misleading no matter how much I like the company who's doing it.
Mea culpa. I was under the impression that every subsequent model is released at the same price point as the old one (similar to the normal RPi at $35).
But this means the original Zero was marketed at $5 which was still never the case where I live (10-20E was/is the norm, maybe courtesy of the shortage). This being said I bought them either way. It just felt a bit disappointing when the expectations set by the promotional material weren't met when ordering the product.
Sounds like the reaction to all promotional advertising doesn't it? Cars are advertised the same, but with the advertised versions price is like 0.7 of what they have actual version you'd want to buy because they overcharge for accessories. They might be making a loss on the 5$ version to make it up on more powerful boards sold later on and therefore using the entire device as an ad campaign.
It’s not quite the same thing. After it was launched I could never get the Zero for 5$/E. There was no upgraded model that I could buy, it was the only one and sold for up to 4 times the advertised price in my region. Today the Zero W is sold at the advertised price so no problem here.
Now imagine a fixed configuration car being sold at double the price. Car ads usually have a fineprint “config used in the ad includes bla and bla and costs this much”.
Where it is like the car industry is when they advertise fuel consumption or emissions numbers that are never achievable in real life. And in that case I feel the same.
esp32 boards(not a devboard, but rpi is not a devboard too) starts from $4.42 with free shipping on aliexpress. yet you are right - less ports, slower, less memory, no linux and a different microarchitecture.
When they saw C.H.I.P. and other arm dev boards were coming to eat their lunch, they instituted these anti competitive practices. Think of that $10 off as a bribe so that RP Foundation can continue to dominate.
I lost faith on Raspberry Pi when they went anti-consumer by implementing some DRM bullshit using their firmware blob together with a dedicated crypto chip in their camera accessory to prevent third party cameras from working. Nevermind the extracted key that's circulating through the net: The crypto chip is itself not cheap and totally unnecessary if not for the DRM.
So, until they backtrack and apologize for their disgusting anti-consumer behavior, there's no way I will buy or endorse their products in any way. There's plenty of highly competitive alternatives and absolutely no need to buy from these crooks.
I have done some hardware design work with the RPi Compute Module and two CSI cameras. There is indeed an authentication chip on the cameras you buy from the RPi foundation. From what I understand, the idea here is to limit the drivers, so that the auto-tuning software (adjusting color balance, brightness, etc) only works with the original camera, not with clones.
There is nothing that prevents you from connecting other CSI cameras (there are plenty available), or writing other drivers. It's just that the auto-tuning functions of the original drivers will only be enabled for original cameras. The driver authenticates the camera(s) at startup, and if they are not the original ones, disables the auto-tuning.
The Foundation says it is a way of securing a revenue stream and recovering some of the cost of R&D work that went into the drivers. I can see how that is a compromise that could be chosen.
Personally, while I am not a fan of locked-down solutions, I find it hard to get as outraged at this as some other people apparently are.
Can't agree more. I used to think they were doing the best they could, subject to their eye-wateringly poor taste in SoC manufacturer.
But these kinds of shenanigans and playing the artificial scarcity game with the RPi0/0w made a very convincing argument to go elsewhere for project SBCs, if the horrible bcm283 wasn't reason enough.
Fortunately, for a little more money, you can get far nicer boards that run fine with mainline kernels and without binary-only boot loaders, e.g. the current crop of RK3399 boards which even have 4GB RAM, USB3 and NVMe interfaces.
The look and feel is very Apple store so that probably is the fairest comparison - but they’ve managed to retain the good bits without it feeling like the chaotic jumble sale that Apple Store’s have become.
Dotted around the store are live demo machines showing Python code running on Pis powering sensors etc, and tutorials showing you how to run it etc.
Was really interesting and heartening to see the number of young 11/12yos in there, boys and girls, either experimenting with the Pis or playing Minecraft etc.
The comparison to the Apple Store (just downstairs from the Pi store …) is both apt and misleading: Apple Stores are all shiny but in essence it’s a sales room. the Pi store, by contrast, has the potential of becoming a place to geek out, to learn something new¹, and to mingle. Let’s see whether this will actually happen. As somebody else said, with luck it might become a modern version of Maplin/RadioShack.
¹ I’m aware that Apple Stores also offer courses but as far as I understand these are more along the lines of “Here’s how to send emails” rather than “You’ll learn something cool about computers”. Both have their place, but they’re quite different in spirit.
They failed to even make the comparison beyond the headline, and oddly, don’t really say anything about how the raspberry store is cool... just that it (might) make sense, contrary to popular intuition
I think the point might be that you don’t need to trash something else just to say the Pi store is cool.
I personally think the comparison is silly. Because you get to play around in the Pi store I think it’s much more similar to a games-workshop or board game store than an Apple store. Even if the aesthetics are similar to the latter.
Wow - that never registered in my mind before and I would have told you, with all conviction, that books say "faint ruled". Apparently it's a 19th century variation of faint as used in the printing industry.
They do. But that doesn't even matter. The point is that the article makes no comparison to any store. They just wedged Apple in the title because clicks.
They could have spun it many other ways. Raspberry Pi's first physical store. You can see examples of what the Pi can do, even play around with them. Consult with staff about which Pi is best suited for your needs. Buy merch and goodies.
Again, the article itself makes no comparison to anything
To be fair Samsung Stores are pretty much knock offs of Apple Stores, the only difference is that they have more TVs. Apple invented the idea of minimalistic, plain shop in premium locations, every other brand is getting a lot of inspiration from them.
Apple most certainly did not invent the premium location minimalistic retail store, it's the standard template for high end fashion and boutiques globally. Look are the people behind their store team and you can see why.
Take a walk through Akihabara or DenDen Town in Tokyo/Osaka respectively and you'll find many stores that used to trade in 10 year old computers are now full of ARM based systems and paraphernalia. It was great to get a couple of new cases that I could touch before handing over my money.
Yeah I was surprised to find that on my most recent walk through as well. It seems like there are a lot more of both e-Sports and ARM-related stores now. It's a fairly recent thing. Wasn't that way even 2 years back. I still feel like the prices on the Raspberry pi stuff was high but it's because it's imported I guess.
Would be really cool if they set some time aside for workshops, demos, or other interactive use of the space aside from just selling stuff. Without some serious guidance and help, many Pis just turn into an unusual way to play Minecraft.
Because this headline demands a cynical response - this isn't cooler than Apple, its cooler than RadioShack.
Also, why the couch? Unless there are some coding camps at the location, I can't imagine someone (even a parent) coming in and needing to sit down. Maybe an experienced sales associate that maps out the types of activities that can be done, but I doubt that as well.
> this isn't cooler than Apple, its cooler than RadioShack.
Arguably it could be cooler than both. You’re making an arbitrary distinction where one isn’t needed. Plus we never even had RadioShack in the UK (maybe Maplins might have been more apt? But I think the Apple comparison serves the authors point quite fine).
> Also, why the couch?
Plenty of shops in the UK have seating. It isn’t that weird at all.
> Because this headline demands a cynical response
No, it really doesn’t. You just chose to be negative for your own personal reasons.
> I would like to say that it rebranded as RadioShack towards the end, but I cant find any evidence of that. So that's probably just my failing memory.
Many of them became Carphone Warehouse circa 2000 . By 2001 the brand had been killed off. My last memory of Tandy was buying a RadioShack 14in TV. It didn't disappoint: it came with the schematic.
But, I definitely remember seeing a shop with RadioShack written on it in Boston, Lincolnshire around 2004 – and that was a town that I don't think ever had a Tandy. I never checked it out as my component needs were satisfied by an independent electronics shop in Lincoln.
I'm speculating that, after Tandy went, independent distributors of RadioShack products sprung up. There does appear to be a shop in Lancashire using the RadioShack logo. Though unless they've got incredible warehousing, they can't sell much RadioShack stuff any more.
There used to be a random electronics junk and appliances shop in Fareham (I forget the name now, it was late 90's/early 00's) which took on a role as a radio shack disti. I don't know if the town had a tandy when they were around as the chain was deep sixed before I lived there. However the Tandy's I did know as a kid were just like radio shacks in the states - same Archer branded parts, same computers (ever wonder what TRS in TRS-80 stood for? I'm guessing Tandy Radio Shack.)
They had the classic radio shack logo as it became and had the catalog to order stuff from. unfortunately the shop closed down and a regular white goods appliance shop appeared in its place. it was a genuinely interesting place to go, they had baskets full of random cables and pieces of VCR's. it was a personal mecca for me for a while. I just wish I could have nabbed a few old computers they had before they went...
I remember this shop very fondly, I used to walk home from school, and pick up quite a few components for various electronics projects, but while I was away at uni it closed, I was very disappointed when I went back to my parents.
I can't remember what it was called. But I had a friend who worked there many years ago.
It’s funny you mention Carphone Warehouse because just last week I thinking how that name has also become a relic of the past due to the miniaturisation of handsets. I mean I know Carphone Warehouse doesn’t sell actual car phones anymore but the name of it’s store does amuse me as a reminder of a bygone era.
Tandy and Radio Shack are the same company. On this side of the pond, Tandy was the brand for a leatherworking hobby shop run by the company, while Radio Shack was electronics; you'd usually find a Radio Shack and a Tandy store next door to each other in the sixties and seventies.
When Maplins was just a Southampton mail order outfit advertised in the back of electronics magazines, Tandy (Radio Shack) was very much a thing in the UK. The shops were always Tandy, the products always Radio Shack prepacked from the US. They spread pretty wide as even small towns often had a shop.
It was the place to buy a pack of 3 resistors, or 2 spade connectors or fuses for your car for 10 to 50 times a reasonable price. It was an OK place to buy books though, as we still had the net book agreement so UK books had the price pre-printed. The US Radio Shack branded books they carried were much more expensive, and always shrink wrapped.
Maplins when they arrived were super cheap by comparison. RS and Farnell had minimum orders and needed a business account.
I love shops with couches or comfy chairs. And every shopping mall should have them, spread around. If I can't sit down now and then I don't stay there for very long - I need to get out of there. Another poster mentioned that he never shopped together with his SO - he goes to his shops, she goes to her shops. That's fine when you're in your own town. That doesn't work so well when you're visitors to an unfamiliar city.
And I hope to go to Cambridge reasonably soon. With my wife.
That's one of their uses... I had a chat with a couple of people sat down and they were just waiting for their SOs to finish browsing. So I gave them a MagPi and Hackspace magazine to read while waiting.
How does that work? You go into the shop, see shirt, check size, buy it, bam, done. Spend 30 minutes ogling PCs, Cars, Bikes, (pick your poison), before going to to find your partner who is still in the first shop with 50 rejected tops outside the changing room. So you find a seat.....
The problem is core CS subjects don’t train you enough to do that. You would have to learn that from somebody who already is an expert and that maybe a little out of reach for a lot of people. I have been wanting to hack hardware but I haven’t had any guidance yet about what/how to proceed and debug. Looks like abstractions have gotten complicated enough for somebody to necessarily ignore how it works under the hood lest modifying the behaviour.
There are exceptions, but neither really teaches these things in most universities. My EE classes were about the skills needed to design a RasPi, not use one, which was "electronics technician stuff", not "serious electrical engineering". And CS is about lofty concepts of algorithms and type theory, where mere "programming" is a dirty business that sometimes can't be avoided. Hardware in CS? Oh, dear.... (Clutching my pearls, heading for my swooning couch.)
Using a RasPi is in that middle ground of intellectual disrepute where hobbyists teach each other and have lots of fun. It's what you do after school.
Atmospheric Black Metal apparently isn't whimsical enough to achieve mass market appeal.
Jokes aside, in my opinion, this sort of music while twee and forgettable is appealing enough to not leave a bad taste in the mouth about the whole advert. Especially when the subject matter has to be seen as approachable to a wide audience of people across age boundaries.
Fully agree. This is less about the act of trying to sell more pi and make enough profit to run the store but to have a branded edu-zone promoting the scene. And Cambridge is pretty much the only place in the UK where this will work. I don't see them opening any others around the country. well maybe ONE other, possibly in the north (Manchester/Liverpool way) or Edinburgh maybe
I have had 4 different RPi boards in the past including the latest and the pi zero, and every single of them failed to work reliably. The hardware design and quality are poor. One of my board had soldering issue, another has power supply issue, another has SD card reader issue. You would run into lots of tough ones. Software eco is mostly for playing around. There're lots of frustration around but no good answers. I like the idea, I like its motivation, but they need to focus on the core values and make it work well.
I up-voted because I still think that it has good values for kids.
Curious what you mean by "Software eco is mostly for playing around".
They run full Debian, and despite the limited I/O throughput, there are a number of relatively high profile projects that are widely used. Most people I know with one run pi-hole, openvpn, a cacti system, etc.
I personally run Syncthing, pi-hole, openvpn, and an internal webserver that hosts movies/tv from an attached drive. It's pretty decent as a NAS too.
You can apt-get install and/or compile whatever you want on them. I've also used one to coreboot my laptop with the GPIO output.
I have 4 RPi's in frequent use. The one in my kitchen (music player, Pi 2 model B) needs a clothes peg to squeeze the SD card into the reader otherwise it won't boot.
So that's a 25% failure rate for me as far as hardware issues are concerned.
It has worked reliably for a few years with the clothes peg though!
If you have set up the board for a single purpose and let it run, I think it may last for some time.
I constantly switching different SD cards for different OSes with different configuration and software updates. Maybe that would result in something different from you guys?
My soldering problem is visible through bare eyes.
What RPi should have done is to design a complete system from power supply, USB hubs/dongles, video adapters, wifi/bluetooth adapters. I went through a bunch of them and it got me really frustrated trying different USB hubs/power supplies (1 works out of 4 hubs), and I am not sure the reason why (I got 3 external power supply on 3 out of 4 hubs).
I wonder if they sell any water poof cases. I've had a hard time finding a case that can fit a Pi + battery and yet has grommet holes for wiring (so I can connect outdoor sensors). Most of what I've found are hacked together things or people drill into expensive pelican cases and then epoxy all the cables with a resin.
If you aren't opposed to using your own enclosure search the term 'cable gland'. I keep a variety on hand and they work well, if a little chunky. Just be mindful of the sensor end of the wire, capillary action via the insulation can be a problem.
Since the goal of this might be hacking in general, do you think it's possible that they'd sell something like an ODroid in one of these stores? Most of my hacking in ARM land has been with an ODroid for the last couple years just due to the amount of power you get from them.
They’re almost certainly not expecting for the store itself to be profitable. Rather, the store is a billboard for the company (the same is actually very much true for Apple Stores; except those are probably crazily profitable in addition). In a way, the store’s main purpose is to take the product out of the niche. Let’s hope it works.