Monday, March 5, 2012

Raspberry Pi rollout: I'm irritated but I still want one

News reports that the new Raspberry Pi single-board computer sold out in minutes are inaccurate. The first batch of 10,000 units sold out in seconds, not minutes. According to actual data collected by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Farnell/Newark/Element14, and RS Online/Allied Electronics, projected demand was about 100,000 units (10X supply), and actual demand was 1,000,000 units (100X supply, and 10X projected demand). The rush of people worldwide trying to buy one brought the Farnell and RS servers to their knees. It looked like a DDoS attack on the servers. It was the electronic equivalent of shoppers rioting at a toy store.

I think that the Foundation knew something big was going to happen, but they had no idea it would be this big. And they were unable to convince their new partners to take their advance warnings seriously. The Foundation and their commercial partners deserve some measure of the scorn that has been heaped upon them.

But they also deserve all of the applause that they've gotten. Why? Because the RasPi is a revolutionary idea  world-changing, even  and the real thing looks like a fantastic product. This is something that's never been tried before. Although the RasPi was aimed at teachers and students, interest in it has gone way beyond that intended market. The Foundation is new at this sort of thing, and they will make several more mistakes before they get it right. But I have confidence that will learn as they go, and they'll eventually get it right. And one day, eventually, (as soon as possible!) I will own a RasPi.

Until then, I remain irritated.

  • Irritated that I couldn't get one on the first day.
  • Irritated that the reason I couldn't get one was because of the mistakes of others.
  • Irritated that the website doesn't work during daylight hours in North America.
  • Irritated that I can't even order one right now. (And neither can anybody else.)

But I'll get over it. And I wish them luck.

UPDATE, 12 MARCH 2012: Over the weekend, the website was moved to a different server. Now I can get it day or night, all week long. Cross off irritation number 3, and thank and their hosting partner.

UPDATE, 15 MARCH 2012: I had written that actual demand was 1,000,000 units. That was based on the initial data collected on the first day of sales. Now we have some updated numbers. Based on those who "registered an interest" with their two distributors, actual demand exceeds 2,000,000 units. Granted, many, if not all, of those are people (like me) who registered with both distributors, but from what I've read, most potential customers (like me) want to buy multiple units. So I think that the "more than 2,000,000" figure is accurate.

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