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SteveDee
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The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:49 am

There are a few reasons why an enterprise may choose to introduce a new product with no prior announcement (i.e. "Surprise!").

Two common reasons often quoted are:-
1) to protect cash-flow; sales continue as normal for existing products until the new product is announced. So if you say a new product is on its way, some buyers will hold off and wait. For surprise announcements of a new product you just have to adjust manufacturing and stock levels in advance and make sure you can meet demand, maximise sales, and minimise redundant stock.
2) Maximise publicity; there is a view that you gain more publicity from one big announcement than from several lead-in press releases (e.g. "its coming", "its nearly here", "here it is").

However, I'm a bit surprised that the Foundation has chosen this approach to new product introduction (please excuse me if they have published a road-map covering new product introduction ...I didn't get the memo).

A friend ordered an Odroid just a few days before the Pi 2 was announced. If he had heard even a whisper that there was a Pi with a very similar spec and price on the way, he would have waited.

Of the 200,000 B+ buyers for January, how many are now kicking themselves?

I'm not trying to turn good news into bad news. The introduction of the RaspberryPi in 2012 has created an explosion of low cost, single board computers.

We live in exciting times! Back in the 1990s, any keen hobbyist would have sold his granny (and his wife...if he had one) for an SBC with i/o for less than 50 quid!

I just maintain that, for the benefit of Pi users, the Foundation should share its plans (at least in part) with its market.

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:27 am

Any hint of an impending upgrade instantly kills current demand. It has taken technology companies down in the past.

As an outsider, we noticed this particularly in summer 2013. There were rumours amongst distributors of an impending "new form factor". Case manufacturers ran down their stocks. Accessory manufacturers were nervous. Nobody wants to be left holding 10,000 of last year's model.

All the Pi bloggers and vloggers noticed a decrease in traffic (the hot weather also contributed). We actually thought the Pi might have 'peaked' at that point. I'm glad we were wrong. :)

But the point is, with major product upgrades (and the B+ to Pi 2 is the biggest yet) you just can't do it. People may squeal, but the Pi is so cheap anyway. Just buy another.

Also, don't forget the model A was pre-announced, the A+ was pre-announced, the camera was pre-announced, the DSI screen has been pre-announced. The Pi 2 CM has been pre-announced, the Pi 2 model A has been pre-announced. So it doesn't apply to ALL products.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:40 am

SteveDee,

I'm not at all surprised at how the Foundation handled this. There is no wrong in any of this.

What if they did not know how long the new model would take to perfect? What if it just did not work out and got cancelled? And so on.

Those 200,000 B+ buyers for January may well kick themselves but really, they got what they wanted didn't they? A real nice little Linux computer for a ridiculously low price. They should not feel cheated or misled or put out, their machines will not suddenly stop working because there is a new model out. They can still do whatever it was they were going to do with their Pi.

If they are kicking themselves they should just stop and consider how greedy that is.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity. Just make a donation to the charity and buy a new model as well :)

This is 2015, technology changes every day, just get used to it.

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:56 am

Perhaps the announcement came early because of the Odroid C1.

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:59 am

it was a birthday prezzie...
3rd year

I was expecting the display but obviously the sony factory has been in full production for a couple of months ;)

these things do not happen over night
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alexeames
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:04 am

Shadow_7 wrote:Perhaps the announcement came early because of the Odroid C1.
I think there's a lot of misunderstanding out there of just how long it takes to get new silicon to market.

This was clearly planned and already in the works over a year ago. The C1 and any competitor products have nothing to do with it.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:08 am

A good example of how it can sink a company is what happen to Osborn Computer. They announced a new model. Current stop selling. And the new model came out month later... But by that time the company died.

Hey. If I did not see the one British paper that had a breaking story on the RPI2 they accidentally released earlier. Would be waiting for a Banana Pro and not a BPI2! ^_^

But now waiting for the USPS person to deliver a BPI2 today! ^_^

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:31 am

alexeames wrote:
Shadow_7 wrote:Perhaps the announcement came early because of the Odroid C1.
I think there's a lot of misunderstanding out there of just how long it takes to get new silicon to market.

This was clearly planned and already in the works over a year ago. The C1 and any competitor products have nothing to do with it.
Correct that this has been in planning for over a year. I've known about it for about that long, but then I was working at Brcm when they were developing the 2836.

But devices like the ODROID did have some impact - it was obvious that a faster device was needed to compete with these higher performance SBC's quite some time ago. Clearly wasn't the C1 as that wasn't released, but the way the market was going was clear.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:04 am

Nobody wants to be left holding 10,000 of last year's model.
There's no doubt that there must be a compromise way between total openness and total secrecy

Human nature is to be disappointed in buying something one month to find a better model next month at same price.

Firms who were not in on the secret are going to lose financially because a lot of them DO have a lot of last months model.

New Pi owners are the winners in this of course - sad for some - but that's the way that the cards have been played.

I think everyone will have learnt something from what has happened and will be less likely to be "caught out" in future

regards

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:14 am

It's always difficult - at some point, someone suffers whatever you do. Some people are left with stock, or customers feel disappointed, or the Foundation takes a monetary hit. I'm not sure there is any happy medium, and neither are the Foundation - speaking to the boss one Monday evening and we were talking about exactly this conundrum and how there really wasn't anything that could be done about it.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:22 am

To listen to some people you would think that the launch of the Pi2 stopped all the B+s bought in the last month to suddenly stop working !! :roll:

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:24 am

how there really wasn't anything that could be done about it.
With respect, there's ALWAYS a better way to do something :)

I'm sure we'll be chatting about this at the party :)

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:28 am

To listen to some people you would think that the launch of the Pi2 stopped all the B+s bought in the last month to suddenly stop working
have you met human beings before? :)

If you'd bought 10 B+ week last monday - you'd be a bit peeved at least :)

If you had £2K B+ in stock in your company -you'd be a bit more than peeved

No-one likes this sort of surprise, whether it be a phone,car or whatever :)
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:29 am

PeterO wrote:To listen to some people you would think that the launch of the Pi2 stopped all the B+s bought in the last month to suddenly stop working !! :roll:

PeterO
It's all part of Eben's master plan to take over the world. On a date, as yet undecided, all Pi's will strangely appear to turn off, but in reality they will be internally transforming in to a super connected AI that will spontaneously take control of all the world computer systems. At this point, Eben will start to wear a long flowing black overcoats, and will jumping around in slow motion.

Hmm, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:29 am

simplesi wrote:
how there really wasn't anything that could be done about it.
With respect, there's ALWAYS a better way to do something :)
I'm sure we'll be chatting about this at the party :)
Simon
Good luck with that... I expect there are lots of people experienced in launching products and running charitable foundations that will be offer ing their advice. :roll:
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:34 am

simplesi wrote: If you'd bought 10 B+ week last monday - you'd be a bit peeved at least :)
If they were fit for purpose last week they will still be fit for purpose this week.
If you had £2K B+ in stock in your company -you'd be a bit more than peeved
Bearing in mind that it has taken 6 months for demand for Bs to decline I doubt that anyone will be left with unsaleable stock.
No-one likes this sort of surprise, whether it be a phone,car or whatever :)
Very few people have suffered from "this sort of surprise" and a lot of people have had a very nice surprise.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:35 am

PeterO wrote:
simplesi wrote:
how there really wasn't anything that could be done about it.
With respect, there's ALWAYS a better way to do something :)
I'm sure we'll be chatting about this at the party :)
Simon
Good luck with that... I expect there are lots of people experienced in launching products and running charitable foundations that will be offer ing their advice. :roll:
A bit like all those people with their concern trolling when the Pi first launched, lots of helpful advice on where the Foundation went wrong, and how they were going to fail because they were not taking the correct advice. Don't see much of them nowadays. I guess they are off somewhere running their own successful computer charities.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:39 am

jamesh wrote:
PeterO wrote:To listen to some people you would think that the launch of the Pi2 stopped all the B+s bought in the last month to suddenly stop working !! :roll:

PeterO
It's all part of Eben's master plan to take over the world. On a date, as yet undecided, all Pi's will strangely appear to turn off, but in reality they will be internally transforming in to a super connected AI that will spontaneously take control of all the world computer systems. At this point, Eben will start to wear a long flowing black overcoats, and will jumping around in slow motion.

Hmm, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that.
He's already got the sunglasses.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:40 am

jdb wrote:
jamesh wrote:
PeterO wrote:To listen to some people you would think that the launch of the Pi2 stopped all the B+s bought in the last month to suddenly stop working !! :roll:

PeterO
It's all part of Eben's master plan to take over the world. On a date, as yet undecided, all Pi's will strangely appear to turn off, but in reality they will be internally transforming in to a super connected AI that will spontaneously take control of all the world computer systems. At this point, Eben will start to wear a long flowing black overcoats, and will jumping around in slow motion.

Hmm, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that.
He's already got the sunglasses.
The day may be closer than expected.......after all, pi2 wasn't expected until 2017.....
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:45 am

interesting discussion, I can see why the foundation made this a surprise - great promotion and TBH its exciting to just have it sprung on us. I found out about it whilst browsing another forum and found it more than a little tedious that this forum was down for most of yesterday. I will be buying a pi2 as no doubt will most on the forum.

re Petero
Bearing in mind that it has taken 6 months for demand for Bs to decline I doubt that anyone will be left with unsaleable stock.
Lets hope not - but there was no chip and RAM difference between the B and the B+
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:48 am

The computer world has always moved fast; whatever you buy today is outdated by next week. Sure, this was a big and sudden step, but there's really no reason to be disappointed.

Did you just buy a B+ and are now annoyed that you could have got more power for the same buck had you waited a week? Well, tbh you could have gotten more power for the same buck a week ago too, if you turned to a competitor. You had a reason for choosing Raspberry Pi then, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have bought the B+ if its specs couldn't live up to what you had in mind.

Personally I was thinking about buying an O-droid for the added performance. I didn't see how the B+ could compete with that, even if I dearly wanted my new SBC to be a Pi (I'm a loyal customer type of person). As always when it comes to computers it seems that my inability to actually get around to buying anything has served me well. Although I'm looking forward to buying the new Pi immensely I probably won't until I know I have time to actually do anything with it.

So... next quarter, maybe :P

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:57 am

I did buy a couple of Pis in December and January. I put them to work doing specific jobs, which they performed admirably well as the task was well within their capability.

I checked on them on Monday to see if the availability of the Pi2 had degraded their performance, or even varopised them completely. But it turned out that they are still there doing their job admirably well.

I have no explanation for their apparent resilience in the face of such an destructive force.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:58 am

There's a simple response to this. Use Google: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=osborne+effect

When I worked at IBM there was a simple policy: confidential until announced. By the time of the public announcement the hardware / software would be working and some customers & OEM developers with a non-disclosure agreement would be running it.

That appears to be a close parallel to the way the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Broadcom are working. The only oddness is that the announcement and general availability are coincident, but that's a marketing decision.
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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:00 am

I think I agree with most of the comments above. And I did outline the prime reason for doing this in my post: managing the market.

But what I would dispute is that the only way to do this is by the "surprise!" method of delivery.

To paraphrase Moore: "you need to replace your mobile phone every 2 years because the latest model is at least twice as wicked as the last one!" (clearly I'm refering to Patrick here, not Gordon E.).

We all realise that technology moves at a [frightning] pace, and the stuff we use now (such as a plain Pi model B) will be laughable in 10 years time.

I could cite many examples of strong companies with strong products which are announced ahead of time, and they prosper. But what happens when a company stays quiet? Share prices tend to fall, with real danger of the company collapsing.

When I talk about announcing ahead of time, I don't mean a year ahead. I know that high tech companies are either developing stuff for next year, or they have already given up. I'm only talking about making new product announcements a few weeks ahead of release.

I know the Foundation is a charity, but to say the product is cheap is incorrect. What is considered cheap to someone like me, living in the sunny half of England, may not be considered cheap to a student or enthusiast living in Arusha or Pune. And what if someone had placed an order for 10 units, is that still cheap?

While the Foundation, Sony, Farnell and RS all have a need to manage the situation, the users/consumers also have a need to manage their own activities. Someone is going to get stuck with surplus stock whether the new product is announced ahead of time or not. But again, there are ways of managing this.

One tried and trusted method is to discount the old model, so that it continues to sell alongside the new model. You can then discontinue the old model once stock is exhausted. Its a balancing act; do you want to lose money on the stock you are holding, or turn it into cash?

Either way, its an interesting discussion.

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Re: The element of surprise

Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:05 am

Hopefully with the release of the Pi2 the prices for the previous models will be even cheaper. Oreder a Pi2 but for all my other projects that dont require high speed/memory those previous models will do very nicely.

Runs off to eBay to see if anyone is flogging their old models.

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