timb wrote:These things originally sold for what, $500? The only reason they're popular now is because South Coast Boutique was having a fire sale and letting these things go at $50 each. I'm sure that was at a loss.
How much do you think they would realistically charge for this if they resurrected it for the RPi? $250 minimum I bet. Who's going to pay that to stick a $35 computer in?
You're using OldeThinke from the ancient past, aka B.P., "Before Pi" ... which is any time more than just a year ago
I doubt anyone paid the $499.99 original retail price of the Atrix lapdocks, except perhaps the actual target customers, business people who couldn't care less what the price was since someone else was paying for it, as long as they could have the latest shiny new toy on the block before anyone else. The typical "street" price dropped to $299.99 within months, and many factory-sealed units are fetching around $100 on Amazon now that they're no longer available from the surplus clearance dumpmasters who had no idea what the actual value is.
The technology in the lapdocks is now about three years old, since it takes a year to get to volume production after the design start date for current-generation parts. Now that they're three year old parts, their cost is much lower. Even so, the quite thin and light batteries provide upwards of 4 ~ 6 hours of power. The display is better than that found on most laptops of that size (sub-12 inches), the cost of just a stand-alone HDMI monitor of that size and quality is more than $100, and will be much heavier. There's a USB hub built-in and the trackpad is not bad at all. I'll bet that anyone who does parts sourcing for a living can get everything needed to build a PiTop/LapPi for well under $100 because there's no development costs involved (modulo perhaps modding the case molds to make room for the Pi board) and the generic parts prices are as low as they're going to get. Since we know from the Pi factory videos that robot labor is cheaper, more accurate, and more productive than even Asian slave labor, the cost of assembly and testing will be minimal.
Another difference between the Atrix/Bionic lapdock and potential PiTop/LapPi markets is that there are already over a million Pii out in the wild and there haven't even been any large educational buys yet (the intended target market). If every science and math teacher were able to buy a PiTop/LapPi for each student at the actual cost of parts, assembly, and bulk shipping (the Pi economic model, in essence), that total cost could be under $100. The reason is because there would be no development, marketing, or capital costs involved, which can easily exceed 80% of the retail price of a typical consumer or business oriented product with a relatively small market size, due to risk - which describes the Atrix/Bionic lapdock market to a tee. Educational buys are paid for up-front with purchase orders (cash within days in today's banking system), with a typical required delivery period of 90 days. This is easily achievable once the POs are received and the more submitted at one time, the merrier (which describes bulk government buys to the letter).
One point of resistance to Pi acquisition, in general, is the existing Wintel/Apple-oriented IT bureaucracy that has been established over the last few decades that resulted in the UK ICT debacle (and similar results elsewhere) in large part. There would be unimaginable pressure on politicians by the current educational IT suppliers if any alternative to the status quo were pursued. Fortunately, the constituency that matters for the Pi, the science and math teachers, is pretty well fed up with the existing bureaucracy and would welcome the Pi and a PiTop/LapPi option. The way that most students get access to computers is in dedicated labs or on charging/configuration carts where everything is nailed down and under such rigid configuration management (typically due to Wintel system info security weaknesses and resetting between each session to a known state) that the possibilities for experimentation are completely scrubbed clean.
The Pi low hardware cost (It no workee any more? Have the students fix it or recycle it!) and open-source-software-on-SD-card approach, where Wintel info insecurity doesn't exist and configuration resetting is an SD card overwrite away, eliminates the need for the IT bureaucracy, which is why it will also resist Pi acquisition. The system administration being done by the students and educators would be part of the educational process instead of an adjunct bureaucratic cost. If you think corporate IT bureaucracies are immovable objects, imagine them being paid well below market rates as is the case in educational institutions. Most teachers wind up taking matters into their own hands rather than deal with the existing unresponsive IT system, anyway. That fact should just be accepted and reflected in STEM educational computing programs. Once the science and math departments have been liberated, the other departments may decide that they don't like the status quo, either.
A PiTop/LapPi would make it even easier for Pi technology to enter classrooms as they would be self-contained systems with integrated displays, keyboards, trackpads, additional USB ports, and battery power - just what's needed in a lab environment, especially in the field, where typical classroom computing devices are seldom seen. Ah, to dream, perchance to sleep (yes, I know my Shakespeare well enough that I reverse the temporal order of those two states as I get little chance to do much of either these days ):