Lope
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Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now?

Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:06 am

So I've read why the wait times are so long for the Pi. Basically the reason is explained as:
~"The foundation is a charity and doesn't have massive capital to fund production of a zillion Pi Zeros upfront (and the profit margins are small), unlike their big Pi's which get funded by Farnell and RS etc"

So instead of "everyone" having to wait forever * to be able to "just order 1,3,5 or 10 Pi Zero's" online, any time they like...

Why not solve the problem simply and elegantly? We already have all of the requirements.

1. A working prototype
2. Backers
3. A website to manage the process: Kickstarter.com

So it's simple. There's a massive amount of people who will pay upfront for their Pis and are happy to wait until they're manufactured and delivered.

So let's just do the Kickstarter and solve the problem.
I'll put my money where my mouth is.

+1 if you agree

* Forever
An estimated 6 months, but realistically it could be a year or two or three. They'll likely be FAR more successful with the Pi Zero than they ever were with the previous Pi's. It will replace microcontrollers for many applications.
These time frames are forever, in terms of technology.
Lets face it. With their low volume production strategy they've got going it's going to take a very long time before demand is satisfied. The more available they become, the more industry will start taking it seriously as a viable option.
I asked on #raspberrypi on freenode and someone joked (the year) 2020. But you know what. It's actually not that crazy of an estimate. That's 4 years. Sounds about right.

The Pi Zero is approaching the cost of microcontrollers and is approaching the cost of cheap Arduino clones. The guy from Adafruit estimates 10,000 (official) Arduinos are sold every month.
In 2013 PIC was shipping 1 billion microcontrollers every year. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many microcontroller manufacturers out there.
Obviously the Pi Zero won't replace them all. But it could easily acquire a small fraction of the market. (Comprising many billions of units per year, so a small fraction is a couple of million per year, above and beyond the typical raspberry Pi applications and sales)
With the upcoming IoT Internet of things. Think of the hundreds or thousands of appliance manufacturers (or retrofitting appliance manufacturers) that can and will pop up to sell new or retrofit old appliances and vehicles getting them smart and connected. They will each sell hundreds or thousands of units. The Pi Zero can easily capture a big chunk of this market.
We don't yet know all the places it will go and things it will do and make possible. We cannot imagine it. But it will or CAN be huge, if they can meet demand. If not somebody else will do it.

The reason I say this, is software. Much of what is needed to do anything cool and technological is software. The average developer is not experienced with microcontrollers, the average developer knows Java, PHP and MySQL and whatever else. That stuff doesn't run on micro controllers. But it certainly can run on a Raspberry Pi Zero. Bringing a product to market is a HUGE challenge. As an example, it's much easier for the average developer to type apt-get install mysql-server than to try and code a performant, reliable database from scratch in C to run on a microcontroller with only a few KB of RAM. Here's another example, lets say you want to compress or decompress some audio... apt-get install sox. Try doing that on a microcontroller.. oh right, you can't. You need a specialized ASIC (bringing the cost of the solution closer to the Pi Zero) that can only work with specific formats and can not get bug fixes. Seriously think about the implications on development time. Selecting chips, reading datasheets for hours, various PCB revisions, fiddling with C and assembler. It could take days or weeks to get all of that done, depending how expert the developer is, the size of their team, budget, tools. Not to mention risk of problems/bugs. All of that vs apt-get install sox. Mark my words.

Often with a microcontroller based project implementing a new feature requires selecting a new chip, which often requires circuit board revisions, and then changing other components. Then it's more development time for compatability, low level programming, ordering physical components, waiting. Because the Pi Zero is so massively overpowered as a microcontroller you could implement so many features or do so many new things, without having to select a different brain (Pi Zero) and without having to throw out, or rewrite the last revision of your software.

Someone responded to this post by saying to me "Pi Zero and a Microcontroller are very different." They certainly are. A Pi is a computer, so it can do most things that any computer can do. It's much easier to develop software for, and has many hundreds of MB of RAM and USB and so on all working out of the box, whereas a microcontroller is a very unuserfriendly chip that requires advanced low level knowledge to get ANYTHING done, and only has a tiny bit (measured in KB) of RAM and CPU performance is far less. So yes. Pi Zero (or future competing devices) will go far above and beyond in terms of capabilities, possibilities and applications (things getting done).

Think about all of this carefully and you will see how the Pi Zero (or a competing device) will become Microcontroller 2.0.
Last edited by Lope on Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:13 am, edited 8 times in total.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:21 am

Please go read ALL the rules for Kickstarter campaigns. The RPF is an ongoing business with a product in production (albeit slower than many people would like).

In particular:
Projects can’t fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items.

Lope
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:37 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:Please go read ALL the rules for Kickstarter campaigns. The RPF is an ongoing business with a product in production (albeit slower than many people would like).

In particular:
Projects can’t fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items.
Okay not a big deal.

Plan B: Find another well known fundraiser site who's TC's will allow it. eg: IndieGoGo or whatever.
Plan C: Custom site to fund the Pi Zero.
Infact the typical Kickstarter style site is not necessary. The campaign doesn't need to be all-or-nothing. There's no target goal necessary. There's no need to give refunds to the backers. In a nutshell it's RPF taking pre-orders, and thereby solving their capital problem.

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:58 am

I'm guessing the current limitation on Pi 0's isn't money, but SOC availability, production line capacity, and the need to actually make money to run the Foundation (profit margins on 0's must be tiny I would think)

Big problem with Zero (or anything > microcontroller) as IoT? Power consumption.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:06 am

jamesh wrote:I'm guessing the current limitation on Pi 0's isn't money
I'm guessing it is money. So you have a spare £200k knocking about, make & sell 100k Zeros. Then re-invest. But margins are so thin that you now have £220k to invest, and make a new batch of 110k...

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:12 am

"The foundation is a charity and doesn't have massive capital to fund production of a zillion Pi Zeros upfront (and the profit margins are small), unlike their big Pi's which get funded by Farnell and RS etc"
Do you have a link for this quote? Google can't find it.

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:27 am

gregeric wrote:
jamesh wrote:I'm guessing the current limitation on Pi 0's isn't money
I'm guessing it is money. So you have a spare £200k knocking about, make & sell 100k Zeros. Then re-invest. But margins are so thin that you now have £220k to invest, and make a new batch of 110k...
And where does the money to run the Foundation come from? 10% margin isn't enough.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:51 am

jamesh wrote:
And where does the money to run the Foundation come from? 10% margin isn't enough.
So $5 pricepoint is too low to make zero in sufficient volume.
Would anyone really care if it was closer to $10 but actually available in quantity?
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:07 am

Pebble, the smartwatch makers, were very much an ongoing business having been selling their original Pebble and Pebble Steel smartwatches for more than a year before they went back to Kickstarter to bring the newer Pebble Time to market. The Pebble Time campaign broke Kickstarter records. What Pebble effectively did was use Kickstarter as a pre-order service.

I don't think the idea behind this is to raise money for charity if it is set up by people not involved with the Foundation or Trading.

In the real world, this idea already exists as a business model, as there are collaborative buying organisations that operate with a membership of many small retailers use their collective buying power to achieve economies of scale. It works OK for conventional retailers because they are geographically not competing with each other. That division of territory is not possible on the web though.

Ultimately, the collecting of names and a small amount of cash from each just needs a means of trustworthy escrow for the money to give confidence to the participants, without underestimating the effort required to physically get a large number of items distributed worldwide having struck a deal with a courier company - and then act as a means of raising enough money to place a bulk order. There might even be a seed of an idea for a web entrepreneur there - does such a thing already exist?

Then I am assuming that Raspberry Pi would be willing to sell a bulk order outside their established distribution process especially when presumably this would be a means to bypass the 1 zero per order limit.

Might doubts about applying this for the Zero is the fact that they have become sporadically available and each batch takes around 90 minutes to sell out. I have been able to casually buy one at each opportunity without a problem. If we are just a month or two away from full flow distribution then the rug will be pulled right out from under.

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:34 am

mikerr wrote:
jamesh wrote:
And where does the money to run the Foundation come from? 10% margin isn't enough.
So $5 pricepoint is too low to make zero in sufficient volume.
Would anyone really care if it was closer to $10 but actually available in quantity?
That would be my guess, but I have little visibility on Zero's future. I'd bump the price up to make it more sustainable. As you say, it would still sell LOADS at $10, but that would be more expensive than the CHIP.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:35 am

Money no, manafacturing capacity no, RPF no, the ZERO is a RPT product.

Reason as alluded to is the Fab Plant ramping up BCM2835 production

So Kickstarter idea is total baloney, as per usual in these pi in the sky posts which go no where and full of hyperbole.......
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:07 pm

The flaw in this "cunning plan" is that the goal of Pi Zero was to bring the price as close to zero as possible.

So if you start a KS at a higher price, where is RPi's motivation to supply you, seeing as there is currently more demand than supply for the existing vendors and they've said they won't be adding new vendors until such time as demand and supply stabilise?
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:38 pm

My question would be who is going to make the things?

The Sony factory in Wales is fully busy and I very much doubt that a kickstarter type scheme would raise enough money for them to expand their capacity only for them to reduce capacity after all the Pi Zero's in the KS are delivered.

One could make enquiries of the people who make the Pi in China I suppose

There is the Element14 Customisation Service, not sure who they get to make them, but they have a minimum order of 5,000. I guess you could ask them for a quote and time scales

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:48 pm

KeithSloan wrote:My question would be who is going to make the things?

The Sony factory in Wales is fully busy and I very much doubt that a kickstarter type scheme would raise enough money for them to expand their capacity only for them to reduce capacity after all the Pi Zero's in the KS are delivered.

One could make enquiries of the people who make the Pi in China I suppose

There is the Element14 Customisation Service, not sure who they get to make them, but they have a minimum order of 5,000. I guess you could ask them for a quote and time scales
You forgot to add where would one get the BCM2835 SoC manufactured as at present AFAIAA there is only a One Fab Plant :!:
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:13 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
KeithSloan wrote:My question would be who is going to make the things?

The Sony factory in Wales is fully busy and I very much doubt that a kickstarter type scheme would raise enough money for them to expand their capacity only for them to reduce capacity after all the Pi Zero's in the KS are delivered.

One could make enquiries of the people who make the Pi in China I suppose

There is the Element14 Customisation Service, not sure who they get to make them, but they have a minimum order of 5,000. I guess you could ask them for a quote and time scales
You forgot to add where would one get the BCM2835 SoC manufactured as at present AFAIAA there is only a One Fab Plant :!:
Depends where Brcm make them, can be made in any 40nm fab.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:22 pm

The other fly in the ointment is KS and IGG, etc. take a cut off the top of the proceeds, so you can't use a $5 donation to buy a $5 product. The campaign would have to collect more than that. IF one went to Element14 with a pile of money to get a "customized" Pi0 run, again, the unit cost would be more than $5, since at that point, Farnell isn't constrained by contrast limits on selling price. It's moderately likely that Farnell would smile cheerfully and take your $50K to have 5K Pi0s made, though you might have to wait 4 to 6 months to get them.

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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:27 pm

Maybe a moderator would like to add a question mark to the end of the thread title? At the moment, it looks like a statement of fact which it clearly isn't.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 5:45 pm

GTR2Fan wrote:Maybe a moderator would like to add a question mark to the end of the thread title? At the moment, it looks like a statement of fact which it clearly isn't.
Good call. Done :)
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now

Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:13 pm

alexeames wrote:Good call. Done :)
You should have locked this pointless thread while you were playing.
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Re: Kickstarter to order a Raspberry Pi Zero right now?

Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:17 pm

As it happens, I was coming here to do just that.
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