Lope
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RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:04 pm

RbPi foundation have taken the stance of not caring what the hobbyists and industrial customers want, for example not adding gigabit LAN and have turned down a bunch of other performance related ideas.

They say that if they make new models that provide features that hobbyists and industrial customers want they would be taking resources and attention away from their main goal which is providing a device that's optimized for education (most educational bang for the buck).

Now what makes no sense to me, is hobbyists and industrial customers make up the majority of your sales (I imagine 90%)
So why not actually give your REAL customers what they want, and make some more money, (you're a non-profit) and use the profits from that to improve your entire operation, thus getting more of your education stuff done, like subsidizing your cheapie units for schoolkids etc?

As a business/practical decision, it just makes no sense to me?

I'm sure your real customers would love to see some stuff like this
* Open source firmware
* Proper Gigabit LAN (not on a USB link) with 9000 MTU
* Powerful 4 or 8 core CPUs
* Better memory performance
* SODIMM memory slot
* KVM supported out of the box, without needing GIC emulation hacks in the guest, capable of sharing all cores.
* A headless model without GPU, HDMI and sound.
* ADC's (ADC's would even be good for your educational models)

Even though you've sold millions of units, your RbPi B+ was beaten by the BananaPi for roughly the same price, now your RbPi2 is still beaten out by the relatively unknown Odroid C1, and now the BananaPi M2 (quad core) has been released.

These other manufacturers have had far lower economies of scale than you, yet they beat you on performance while remaining competitively priced.
Last edited by Lope on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:18 pm

It's hard to see why you buy their products !
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:20 pm

If 90% of the customer base truly needed these features, would they be part of the customer base?

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:23 pm

Lope wrote: Even though you've sold millions of units, your RbPi B+ was beaten by the BananaPi for roughly the same price, now your RbPi2 is still beaten out by the relatively unknown Odroid C1, and now the BananaPi M2 (quad core) has been released.

These other manufacturers have had far lower economies of scale than you, yet they beat you on performance while remaining competitively priced.
And yet people still buy Pi instead of the other boards with their greater performance....

Perhaps the customers who want the higher performance aren't quite as numerous as they are vocal?
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:25 pm

MarkTF wrote:If 90% of the customer base truly needed these features, would they be part of the customer base?
Hobbyists don't truely need particular features, they just enjoy them, perhaps you should look up the definition of hobby?

RbPi's have a few advantages, like being easily available, and battle tested. This is only because of their popularity, and the fact that they were "first", not because of the merits of their product.

@fruit: you guys are ridiculous. Stockholm syndrome.

@BMS: Most people who are aware of the RbPi haven't heard of alternatives.

LOL, another thread locked. No real discussion, no addressing of issues raised. What a joke.
Last edited by Lope on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:29 pm

It may not make sense to you because you are on the outside looking in. It makes sense to the Foundation.

Firstly, of COURSE they care was enthusiasts and hobbyists want. But remember, they are an EDUCATIONAL CHARITY, not a hobbyist charity so that always has to be their main aim.

The Foundation already subsidising a lot of educational work with the money from the profits (remember, 6M sold, and production only just keeping up with demand). There is the Picademy stuff, funds going in to OSS like Scratch, various competitions, AstroPi etc.

SO from your list;

Open Source Firmware. Not the Foundations call, it belongs to Broadcom. Not that making it OSS would make any real difference to the majority of users.
Gigabit Lan. Not in my view necessary at all, but to do it would require a new SoC.
4-8 Core CPU. Er, already has a decent 4 core CPU. If you think that's not good enough, write better code.
Memory Performance. If you can find figures that show the memory performance is bad, please post then, because as far as I know, its pretty good. Certainly better than things like Allwinner chips.
SODIMM memory. HA HA HA. Why oh why would you want that? Just makes the board a load more expensive - larger etc. Also needs a new SoC to support that particular sort of memory.
Headless model. Er, why? HDMI, GPU are built in to the SoC. No-one makes SoC without them any more. Use the compute module and just don;t use those bits. They add a $1 to the price at most.
ADC's. Yes, they might be useful. But just adds cost to the board.



So in précis, you can go and buy a C1. I suggest you do, see if you like it, and then use the ODROID forums for support rather than complaining about the Raspberry Pi. But remember, the profits go in to come Chinese back pocket, not a charity which is furthering education.

The Pi costs $35, and you get exactly what the specs say. You don't like it? Don't complain. Buy what you do like.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:32 pm

When I tried to post a reply I got a message back saying thread locked. Nice for you to unlock the thread again.
jamesh wrote:You don't like it? Don't complain. Buy what you do like.
I'm not complaining, just saying that it doesn't make sense that you're not optimizing your product for your actual customers, who are responsible for your sales.
jamesh wrote:Open Source Firmware. Not the Foundations call, it belongs to Broadcom. Not that making it OSS would make any real difference to the majority of users.
You're assuming/implying that you can only buy what Broadcom offers you? There are other chips available, look at some of your competitors, some have features like ADC built in.
jamesh wrote:Gigabit Lan. Not in my view necessary at all, but to do it would require a new SoC.
That's quite a few reasons to pick a better SoC now. Your view is not relevant, it's your customer's view which is important. Hobbyists and industrial customers. Many people use RbPi and competing products for NAS servers. Many of your competitors have gigabit LAN, they don't include this because they spend money on things unnecessarily. Perhaps you should search some forums, like yours, to see people asking about it.
jamesh wrote:4-8 Core CPU. Er, already has a decent 4 core CPU. If you think that's not good enough, write better code.
I said "Powerful 4-8 core CPU". Again your attitude is really not open to performance oriented customers.
jamesh wrote:Memory Performance. If you can find figures that show the memory performance is bad, please post then, because as far as I know, its pretty good. Certainly better than things like Allwinner chips.
You should look around at some benchmarks between your product and competing products, in many cases it gets crushed unless it's overclocked, then it still gets beaten.
jamesh wrote:SODIMM memory. HA HA HA. Why oh why would you want that? Just makes the board a load more expensive - larger etc. Also needs a new SoC to support that particular sort of memory.
A SODIMM slot allows the customer to decide how much memory they need. That's why motherboards come with them. Just another reason to look at other SoC's.
jamesh wrote:Headless model. Er, why? HDMI, GPU are built in to the SoC. No-one makes SoC without them any more. Use the compute module and just don;t use those bits. They add a $1 to the price at most.
You say that GPU is built into the SoC, as if you have no control over this... but Broadcom made a custom CPU for your new RbPi 2. Sure you have a point that most SoCs may have GPU built in, but keep in mind that RbPi has created a whole new market which is still evolving. If manufacturers create headless devices SoC options without GPU will become available.
The reason I mentioned this is in your B+ model, most of the SoC's computing power is in the GPU, the CPU is very weak in comparison.
jamesh wrote:ADC's. Yes, they might be useful. But just adds cost to the board.
Other SoC's offer ADC.
Last edited by Lope on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:34 pm

Lope wrote:
MarkTF wrote:If 90% of the customer base truly needed these features, would they be part of the customer base?
Hobbyists don't truely need particular features, they just enjoy them, perhaps you should look up the definition of hobby?

RbPi's have a few advantages, like being easily available, and battle tested. This is only because of their popularity, and the fact that they were "first", not because of the merits of their product.

@fruit: you guys are ridiculous. Stockholm syndrome.

@BMS: Most people who are aware of the RbPi haven't heard of alternatives.

LOL, another thread locked. What a joke.
Don't think this thread is locked, but if you continue to insult people, and bait the mods, what do YOU think will happen? I suspect that people know where the joke is.

If you think the Pi got to where it is by being first, and not on merit, you you clearly haven't look at it with any real detail. NOTHING sells 6M items without having merit. If thge OPDROID and their like are so much better why are their sales a TENTH of the Pi's? (and that is for all of them put together, and probably optimistic) Just because people haven't head of them? Surely that is their fault?
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:34 pm

Lope wrote:test
When a thread is locked - it says Locked on it. No need to test to see if it is or if you have been banned.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:35 pm

the raspi is what it is. it's capabilities are what is available in the SoC used and the SoC (family) is not going to change in the foreseeable future as that would mean throwing away all the hard work that has already been done.

and on a personal note i was kind of sad to see the Pi2 get released as part of the fun of the pi is squeezing that last drop of performance out of it which still hasn't been done yet with the original Pis.

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:40 pm

Lope wrote:
MarkTF wrote:If 90% of the customer base truly needed these features, would they be part of the customer base?
Hobbyists don't truely need particular features, they just enjoy them, perhaps you should look up the definition of hobby?

RbPi's have a few advantages, like being easily available, and battle tested. This is only because of their popularity, and the fact that they were "first", not because of the merits of their product.
Raspberry Pi weren't first, they just have better press, perhaps due to the foundation being a charity, perhaps because the founders have good contacts in a variety of places, maybe a combination of both.
Lope wrote:@fruit: you guys are ridiculous. Stockholm syndrome.
Hardly an unpredictable response, strong loyalty to a product on a forum dedicated to that product.
Lope wrote:@BMS: Most people who are aware of the RbPi haven't heard of alternatives.
indeed, I was in that category myself not so long back*, but everyone has to start somewhere and the Pi is a good place to start,

Those who haven't heard of other products and purchase a Pi without researching alternatives are probably best off with a Pi as the available support is pretty good.


Edit: * Not so long back == about two years ago
Last edited by BMS Doug on Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:41 pm

ukscone wrote:the raspi is what it is. it's capabilities are what is available in the SoC used and the SoC (family) is not going to change in the foreseeable future as that would mean throwing away all the hard work that has already been done.

and on a personal note i was kind of sad to see the Pi2 get released as part of the fun of the pi is squeezing that last drop of performance out of it which still hasn't been done yet with the original Pis.
Very true, and more succinctly put than myself.

I agree with the Pi2 thing - there is still of lot of performance in the Pi1. Most low hanging fruit has been plucked, but there are still areas that could use work. Fortunately, because the processor upgrade was backwards compatible, all the work is mostly still valid on the Pi2. Which of course would not be the case if the SoC family was changed.

One thing that does come to mind is the 30x increase in performance I saw on the Pi2 when encoding using x264. Anyone who thinks the Pi2 SoC is a bit feeble just need to take a look at how to write good optimised code. Anyone who also things that just bumping up the number of cores results in instant improvements to all code also need to take a look at whether the apps they want faster are multi threaded, because otherwise, adding a load more cores make almost no difference.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:43 pm

BMS Doug wrote:Those who haven't heard of other products and purchase a Pi without researching alternatives are probably best off with a Pi as the available support is pretty good.
That's a good point, and also follows on from the number of Pi's in school - you can have the same device as used in the school at home, and the larger the community the overall better quality of the support (both official and volunteer)

EDIT: Just had another think about strategy. When the Pi first launched there were quite a few people on here complaining about the Foundation strategy, and saying how badly it was run and it was all going to fall down in a big heap. However, this strategy has sold 6M units, approximately 200 times the original estimate. As strategies go, it doesn't seem all that bad, and those early detractors have been proved very wrong indeed. So now think about people like ODROID. Their strategy has resulted in decent but lacklustre in comparison sales. So who strategy is the best?

I'm sure if the Foundation thought they could add more cores, or Gig ethernet, or whatever, without breaking the existing compatibility or exceeding the price point or breaking the bank doing so, they would. Maybe not straight away, because education doesn't like constant upgrades, they like consistency, but eventually. But right now? I see no reason. No-one really needs that stuff, or if they do, they can buy a NUC or similar.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:58 pm

The Pi is certainly not my first choice, but I wouldn't be without one. The Pi is like having a run around car. It's always good to have one around. There are spare parts everywhere and everyone knows how to fix them. They're great little things.

It's just that, instead of great, they could be amazing, and I don't get why you're trying to force an educational product to fit a hobbyist/industrial market. With your organization and skills you could split your product line and do so much better.
I'm not insulting the RbPi foundation, actually complimenting. It's called constructive criticism. If I thought you were doomed I wouldn't bother saying anything.

Perhaps it's good that you ignore the enthusiasts afterall. It allows your competitors a space in the market. Competition is good.

Edit:
BTW when you support a competitor product, and in your words "Your money goes into the back pocket of some chinese businessman" that's a great thing. There's nothing unholy about providing a product that people want, solve a problem, meet a need, ask a fair price for it and get paid. Charities are good too. But there's no need to diss chinese people as if they're lesser than UK people or businesses as if they're undesirable.

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:13 pm

Let me give you an idea of why.

COST COST COST COST COST

You mentioned above - Brcm could make a new chip. Have you ANY idea how much money it costs to 'make' a new chip? It's $600k JUST to have a litho mask made once you have designed the chip. Add on engineering time for the actual design, and any rework, then testing the chip to make sure it does what it says on the tin, and it costs about $1.5M to get even a minor change to a chip to market. Are Brcm going to do that? I'm not sure I would. And for a third party to make from scratch? You need an ARM licence for the core, NEON, and MALI, they are in the millions. You need IP for things like built in HDMI, ethernet, USB - all licences that cost a huge amount of money.

Move to a new SoC. Again. COST. Who is going to pay for the new board design, testing, and the HUGE amount of software development to make it all work? Does the Foundation want top spend the $100k's they have already spent on optimised code for the current SoC again?

Will any new SoC support the same third party GPIO boards that are now available? Will it support the/a camera board? Will it support H264 encode/decode?

So the point is they are great. But the cost to get to amazing is prohibitive, and will probably breech the $35 barrier by quite some margin, meanwhile, all money has to be ploughed in to development, rather than going in to education.

Competition is indeed good. It's clearly one of the reason the Pi2 was developed. But chasing the market for a device like this is a fools game.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:16 pm

Lope wrote: BTW when you support a competitor product, and in your words "Your money goes into the back pocket of some chinese businessman" that's a great thing. There's nothing unholy about providing a product that people want, solve a problem, meet a need, ask a fair price for it and get paid. Charities are good too. But there's no need to diss chinese people as if they're lesser than UK people or businesses as if they're undesirable.
Hmm. I'm not dissing Chinese people, I'm comparing a bulk Chinese manufacturer working for profit, with a charitable Foundation helping with education. It didn't need to be Chinese, any for profit would do. You can of course spend your money where you like.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:24 pm

I was starting to worry, for a while there. We were nearly overdue for our monthly "why doesn't the Raspberry Pi have feature X and Z and cost D" thread.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:25 pm

You seem angry.
If there are alternatives, buy them, stop killing our vibes :D
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:29 pm

Lope wrote: It's just that, instead of great, they could be amazing, and I don't get why you're trying to force an educational product to fit a hobbyist/industrial market. With your organization and skills you could split your product line and do so much better.
Just notice this bit.

The Foundation isn't forcing anyone to do do anything. A hobbiest should just use the best device for the job in hand - in some cases Arduino, in some cases the Pi, in other cases something else. At no point does Eben go round to people houses and say USE THIS OR I'LL WEE ON THE HYACINTHS. The point is that the huge majority of people still choose Pi's

Splitting the product line is an expensive business - maintaining multiple product lines is a horrible job, even just designing all the products costs a fortune (see above), and supporting multiple products is a real PITA, especially if the SoC's are different. The Foundation is a SMALL bunch of people, who are already overstretched. History is littered with companies who bit of more than they could chew. I'd rather the Foundation kept it simple and working than complex and broken.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:34 pm

jamesh wrote: USE THIS OR I'LL WEE ON THE HYACINTHS.
yay it's safe to plant hyacinths again. i stopped planting them as i thought Eben or Mooncake were going to pee on them

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:36 pm

jamesh wrote:
Lope wrote: It's just that, instead of great, they could be amazing, and I don't get why you're trying to force an educational product to fit a hobbyist/industrial market. With your organization and skills you could split your product line and do so much better.
Just notice this bit.

The Foundation isn't forcing anyone to do do anything. A hobbiest should just use the best device for the job in hand - in some cases Arduino, in some cases the Pi, in other cases something else. At no point does Eben go round to people houses and say USE THIS OR I'LL WEE ON THE HYACINTHS. The point is that the huge majority of people still choose Pi's
Dang it, now I want Eben to come round and threaten to wee on my Hyacinths! Do your worst Eben! (I don't think we even have any Hyacinths, which is bad news if Eben was in the neighbourhood, desperate for a wee).
jamesh wrote:Splitting the product line is an expensive business - maintaining multiple product lines is a horrible job, even just designing all the products costs a fortune (see above), and supporting multiple products is a real PITA, especially if the SoC's are different. The Foundation is a SMALL bunch of people, who are already overstretched. History is littered with companies who bit of more than they could chew. I'd rather the Foundation kept it simple and working than complex and broken.
This is what makes me shudder about Odroid, so many different products, how much support can they dedicate to each of them?
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:38 pm

I'm still worried about my nasturtiums

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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:13 pm

@BMS Doug,
Raspberry Pi weren't first...
As far as I can tell they were.

For some time before the Pi arrived I had been searching high and low for little ARM based boards for use in projects at work. All the potential options I came up with were many times more expensive. As a hobbyist I'm always on the look out for such things anyway, no-go.

Then came the Pi with it's breakthrough low price for the capabilities it offered. Wow!

Of course I may have missed something at the time. Feel free to point out what else was available in that class at that time.

@lope and others,

You know, technology moves on all the time. Since the Pi's launch many other such boards have turned up with better this and better that and perhaps at comparable prices. Fine, that is good, if you need what they have use them.

Meanwhile, a vast ocean of activities are covered by the Pi as it is, there is great value in stability. Same OS, same software, same hints and tips on the forums and blogs always work, for years at a time.

That stability has a very high value in the time it saves people who are perhaps not so experienced. Heck even if they are experienced.

Ergo, if the Foundation jumps ship to some different SoC with different peripherals and board design then BOOM, they have nuked a very valuable feature of the Pi.

In short not all requirements are technical and about performance.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:43 pm

Then came the Pi with it's breakthrough low price for the capabilities it offered. Wow!

Of course I may have missed something at the time. Feel free to point out what else was available in that class at that time.
Obviously, that's all very subjective, because it depends on exactly what your priorities are (e.g., if price is the primary or sole criteria, i.e., you would take an old shoebox if it hit the pricepoint...), but I offer the following as a possible counterexample:

In early 2012, the Pi existed, sort of. Before 2/29, of course, only true VIPs could get one, and after that, for about 6 months, you had to put yourself on a long waiting list (unless you were a VIP). As far as I am concerned, these facts made it effectively unavailable. By my lights, it didn't become generally available until late 2012. And didn't really become attractive to buy until about a year after that - when the B512 came out (the first one I bought).

Anyway, my point in laying all this out is that in 2012, despairing of the availability of the Pi, I bought a Hackberry from miniand.com (which no longer exists - for a laugh, try webbing there) for $85 (including shipping). Now, the HB is, as you can see, over twice as expensive as the Pi, but it comes with a better CPU, more memory (a full Gig) and, more trangibly, a power supply and wireless. You add those two things to a Pi, and (unless you're a really good shopper), you're pretty close to the $85 mark.

So, I would argue that the HB was a pretty good contender in its day. Of course, their support sucked (back in the day) and they have now disappeared, but I still have and use the board. So, there ya go...

Edit: Now that I think about it, the HB was $83. It was actually $65+$18 shipping. So, at $65, it is basically *less* than twice the cost of a Pi, and, as listed above, came with quite a bit more stuff than the Pi did (at the time).

But, as I say, the support sucked, and they're no longer there.
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Re: RbPi Foundation's strategy doesn't make sense to me

Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:14 pm

Lope wrote:
RbPi foundation have taken the stance of not caring what the hobbyists <snip>

I could not disagree more. I am a long time hobbyist. At $21 (US$/Amazon prime) for an A+ there's not a more cost efficient solution for my needs. Then there's the folks that provide their time, expertise, and especially their *patience*, on these forums. Industrial use ? LOL. Never part of the plan.
Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is - Isaac Asimov

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