How we’re managing the first sales

An article in today’s suggested a couple of things – first, that we’re already producing units, and secondly, that we’re limiting sales to programmers only at first. Both of these appear to be the result of some horrible miscommunication (blame Eben; he’s very tired). To allay the obvious fears that some of you seem to have, if what’s currently happening in my inbox and on Twitter is anything to go by, I’ll copy and paste the clarification email Eben sent them here:

Just seen the article. Might be worth the clarification that we have 10k *parts kits* on order, not 10k devices. It wouldn’t make sense to order 10k manufactured devices before we know if the design is good (thereby obviating the point of a phased launch).

A little more detail on the idea that we’re providing preferential access to the first 10k units to developers:

I think it’s fairer to say that we expect most of the people who *choose* to buy early units will be programmers (the same people who buy Arduinos and Beagleboards). There’s no formal method in place to ensure that the first 10k go to programmers (it wouldn’t really be feasible for an organisation our size to screen our customers in this way). The closest we come to a scheme like this is that we’ll probably hold back a couple of percent of the first few runs to ensure supply to various partner organisations (OS and middleware vendors mostly).

In our minds “the first 10k will go to developers” is shorthand for “the first 10k won’t go into schools”.

In short, those first units will emphatically not be sold to programmers only. If you want one, and you click on the buy button in time, you can have one; they’re being sold on a first-come, first-served basis, whoever you are, and whether or not you are a programmer. We’ll be announcing here on the website, on Twitter and on the mailing list when we are ready to take orders, which should be some time in December. After that, it’s down to how fast you can click your mouse!

Edited to add: You may have seen on our forums that we’re mulling the possibility of limiting sales to those who are prepared to donate the cost of a Raspberry Pi to the foundation at the same time as they buy one. As soon as we’ve reached a decision on this, we’ll let you know!

Edited again to add: Some people in the comments seem a bit confused about what Eben means by a parts kit. He is talking about the foundation’s order of the parts from which we make the board: chips, transistors, silicon substrate, capacitors, resistors and all the other bits of electronics hardware that go into making a computer. This isn’t something you can buy from us (the board is much too fine-pitched for you to be able to make at home – you’d need assembly robots to do that), but something that we buy from a number of suppliers and turn into the thing that you’ll be buying in the end.