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Raspberry Pi Opens First High Street Store in Cambridge (bbc.com)
246 points by hardmaru 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments

I had a minute to check it out over lunch - most of the floorspace is dedicated to demonstrating what the raspberry pi can do at a high level. They had stations for coding, gaming, sensors, etc. but only ~1/4th of the space was devoted to inventory. While they have a decent selection of Pis, sensor kits, and accessories, it's definitely not a replacement for Maplin. Additionally, Already__Taken seems to have been correct about the level of knowledge among the staff - not everyone working there was technical. This is definitely aimed at the general public.

Did they sell the Pi at the $35 price (+VAT I guess) ? Because it seems that the brick-and-mortar stores I've been to strugle with this very-thin margin pricing.

If you had a physical place where you could source sticker-price raspberry pis it would already be quit good.

This is why I feel the high street is failing. It is assumed that a single store’s value is in the products it directly sells. And if it’s making a loss... shut it down!

A store itself should be an “experience”. You go in, play with products, be inspired and get an appetite for them.

Sure you may leave the store empty handed — just like 99% of people that walk into an Apple store. But if the store convinces you that you want... no _need_ their product, you can then buy later from their online store.

People and businesses really need to think of all sales and PR channels of a business as a whole, not a subset of each part. Only then will we see initiatives like this Pi store start to revive the high street.

The problem is, for every hour that a customer is being convinced, a staff member is being payed. This works for Apple, as they have ridiculous profit margins, and huge numbers of prospective customers.

This doesn't work for RPi if they want to sell at the online rate, unless they have huge positive conversion on add-ons and up-sells.

I presume the people running the store have calculated these prospective rates and have determined them to be likely enough to open the store, but time will tell.

I wish them all the luck in the world!

The prices were very low -- if I remember correctly the zero was £4.50 and the zero W was £5.00. I went in looking for a motor so I didn't catch the price of the Pi B+ etc. Sorry!

No worries, answering my own question, there's a picture showing the prices on their website: https://www.raspberrypi.org/app/uploads/2019/02/Pi-Shelf.png

It's 32£, which is less than on amazon.co.uk (currently 33.95£, varying between 33 and 36 over the last month). I'm guessing it's pretty good.

You can occasionnally find them for less on chinese websites, but I haven't seen a deal in a while, and you need to wait at least 3 weeks to get one; which is pretty much the opposite of brick-and-mortar store.

Probably just high profit margin on accessories but same price for raspis

I was there just before lunch. I spoke with the guy who put together the PiCade they had out for demo. He was very helpful. The one thing that surprised me was that so many of the kits they had on sale require soldering. I would have thought that if you’re going for a more general audience, that’d be something to avoid. But I really don’t have anything negative to say about the place. Nice space, good inventory, pleasant staff.

Looks like an Apple Store light edition.

Not really convinced the design and branding of the store matches up well with the realities of their actual product.

Yeah. Brand-wise, I would rather see the Raspberry Pi shop like a kind of bazaar where you find everything in all sorts of places rather than a very tidy and clean place where everything is in order. The "everything should look like what Apple does" is really tiring and generic these days.

Perhaps their thinking is that you can already find the Pi in bazaar kind of shops full of electronics parts and really aimed at tinkerers.

This shop could be more for luring new users and making it look simple for a first approach.

I think you are exactly right. The customers who want the bazaar with lots of parts are already their customer and will continue to be their customer regardless of a brick and mortar store. This is trying to attract a new customer.

Let's be clear on this: the store is not located in Cambridge because there is a particularly large untapped market there. It is located in Cambridge because of the Pi's ties to the city. Maybe the huge success of the device means that there is active pressure on the RPi folks to diversify or to create a physical manifestation of the brand. Maybe a bricks and mortar store is just a vain indulgence, though I'd hope not.

The RPi has always been about the "technically sweet", not about maximum penetration into new markets.

Context for the use of "technically sweet":

DR. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER: "If the development by the enemy as well as by us of thermonuclear weapons could have been averted, I think we would be in a somewhat safer world today than we are...I do not think we want to argue technical questions here, and I do not think it is very meaningful for me to speculate as to how we would have responded had the technical picture at that time been more as it was later. However, it is my judgment in these things that when you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb. I do not think anybody opposed making it; there were some debates about what to do with it after it was made. I cannot very well imagine if we had known in late 1949 what we got to know by early 1951 that the tone of our report would have been the same."

Setting aside the association of this phrase with the development of terrifying weapons, I think it is apt for the Raspberry Pi. The has lowered the barrier for entry to so many projects that you can just go ahead and make things rather than worrying about whether the utility of the thing is worth its cost or risk. Certainly Pi projects seem to be proliferating in my house...

The "RPi is for nerds" shtick is specifically what they're probably trying to get rid of with that store. Looking approachable is a pretty key component of that.

Doesn't really look like an Apple Store either, unless wood and white is now reserved for Apple...

Isn't the primary users of RPi essentially nerds though? The average person isn't the type to hack one into a garage door to open via app or rig up a pi-hole to filter their smart TV, that's the domain of the stereotypical hacker nerd. I can see the appeal of widening the net to turn more potential nerds to the dark side, but if you just don't have any interest into this stuff to begin with than a shiny store isn't going to change that.

If I recall correctly, the folks who made RPi have serious nostalgia for the BBC Micro. So even if the target demo is nerdy kids, they need to interface with less-than-nerdy parents and teachers who make buying decisions for those kids.

Element14 isn't exactly the most friendly website for a lay person...

> The "RPi is for nerds" shtick is specifically what they're probably trying to get rid of with that store.

Companies should be very careful not to alienate their core audience that made them big. In the past, lots of companies in their plans to widen their audiences made this mistake.

I fail to see how having a clean looking store alienates anyone. If it does, these people should look back at their priorities in life.

A "clean look" means not having the inventory, not having a vast selection on the shelves. It means selling packages, clean boxes of parts, rather than individual bit. I wouldn't walk into a "clean look" to replace a broken connector or motor accessory. And it isn't just because I don't think they will have the part. I don't want to be upsold the newest model. I don't want to be told my device is out of date. I wouldn't walk into the apple store asking for a new headphone jack.

> I fail to see how having a clean looking store alienates anyone.

I do not claim that. But it is a strong sign of the direction that the Raspberry Pi Foundation might want to target in the future. And this direction has a potential to alienate the core audience.

That's basically being angry at what they might do, which is a very premature kneejerk reaction. If they end up alienating them, they'll stop following. I still fail to see how it's really a problem.

Us "nerds" are just never happy.

> Looking approachable is a pretty key component of that.

Agreed, the other key component though is actually making their machine and software/hardware approachable, smooth, performant and reliable. Which they haven't really put any effort in to since they started.

I really wanted the dream of an affordable computer for kids to be a reality but at the end of the day when the $35 just isn't as performant as a budget tablet around the same price then kids are going to just end up with tablets and never have the opportunity to crack the machine open.

If the product doesn't live up to the sales pitch of the store, then the product is just going to get returned.

Tinkering is not the same as consuming media/games. The kids who play with tablets and the kids who tinker with pis are completely different demographics( or the same person at different times). While I agree that the rpi leaves a lot to be desired( and other boards have left it in the dust hardware-wise) it is still the most accessible board out there and to say that they haven't improved on that is false( especially with software).

I totally get that I just think there is a lot of value to the tinkering being possible on the device they use for everything else.

How many kids got a PC to play games on but while bored found QBasic and Gorillas.bas.

How many kids on MySpace or NeoPets learnt HTML/CSS as a way to customize their profiles.

This all used to be a reality when kids grew up using a general purpose computing platform, now the choices are a Tablet that works as a general purpose platform you can't tinker with or a board you can only tinker on but not use as a computer.

I agree. But a tablet is only possible because you can't tinker with it( hardware limitations, how would you fit connectors etc in it?). The software side of things could be better but you also have to keep in mind that an RPi makes both hardware and software tinkering on a very cheap package. Tinkering with software on an old PC was possible but tinkering with hardware would risk a fairly expensive machine.

> I really wanted the dream of an affordable computer for kids to be a reality but at the end of the day when the $35 just isn't as performant as a budget tablet around the same price then kids are going to just end up with tablets and never have the opportunity to crack the machine open.

For the children that love to tinker, $€35 will probably not be an obstacle. Tablets and RPis appeal to quite different audiences.

If they fixed power (stop using USB micro B, add a power switch header) and SD card stuff (let me boot from USB), I would be so much happier with my pis. But as it stands they are really messy to work with.

Using USB micro B lowers the BOM while making the device accessible in international markets (regardless of what your local power is, everyone has USB power adapters). Personally, I'd like to USB-C, but USB-C headers are still hella expensive.

That being said, you can power a Pi by attaching the right cables to the GPIO headers:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/954 https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruits-raspberry-pi-lesson-5-u...

Booting from USB required a hardware change, and appears to be available in the latest versions of the Pi:


(Admittedly, it looks like you need a microSD card to boot the Pi so you can reconfigure it this way.)

Wow I truly did not know you could simply boot from USB on the 3+, thanks for that.

The RPi is for nerds, so long as we class engineers, scientists, makers and so on as nerds.

The non-nerdy masses aren’t interested, they’re happily consuming content on iOS or Android, or doing work on Windows/MacOS

    unless wood and white is now 
    reserved for Apple... 
I wouldn't put it past them to try...

They should have area for group meeting area to host regular meetup / learning tutorial sessions for hobbyist and students.

Also a lab/work bench where anyone can plug and play different components together and experiments, measure voltage, signals with an USB oscilloscopes (make with PI? ).

Volunteers can come in regularly to demo, share info, organizer classes.

Instead of just shelf full of the products - it should also have area where it run a lot of the interesting projects found on the web AI object recognition with YOLO2|3, PI self driving car, etc

Why should they? This is trying to reach new people, not cater to existing hackers in the same way. You could always just visit a hackerspace. Having this in a high street locations would be extremely expensive and waste of resources.

Even in that context I think a learning space would be good. Apple runs classes in their Apple Stores, and I know a good number of (typically older) people who learned to use their iPad that way. Something similar for the Pi could bring in a new audience, not cater to existing hackers.

What about maybe getting groups of school kids in? I'm sure plenty would have their interest piqued and end up making a purchase (or their parents, depending on age)

Stuff on the high street seems more likely to reach new people than stuff in a hackerspace, which are a bit intimidating if you don't know anything about hackerspaces.

Offering taster classes and workshops to get people interested in the product could be a great use of the space.

I believe they're trying to market to the general public. If Apple stores are good at turning heads from how they are designed, then it makes sense to apply that design to their own store. It's about getting people inside.

I see what you're saying, but don't you then run the risk of people not understanding what they're buying. It's ok selling it like an iphone, but if people are expecting an iphone, they're going to be disappointed.

Apple branding, stores and USP all kind of complement each other in that minimalist 'just works' feel. Raspi isn't that.

They don't care so long as they can spin it as the buyer's fault. Early on, before the Pi even launched, they encouraged grassroots marketing campaigns which (amongst other things) promoted the Pi as a consumer-y kind of home entertainment device. One of their forum members pointed out that this might lead to disappointment because it really wasn't a plug-and-play consumer device and required a certain amount of technical knowledge, and his concerns were roundly dismissed. Then after it launched, their staff complained that people who wrongly thought of it as some kind of consumer entertainment device were unfairly giving it a bad reputation because they didn't have the technical skills to get it working.

Do you have any links to point to? I don't recall any of that kind of marketing.

Here is a contemporaneous example where the focus is very much on education


Looks rather nicer than the Google store here in Edinburgh!

Actually didn't know we have a Google store :-)

On Shandwick Place - to be fair apparently it is a "Digital Garage" offering drop in training rather than selling stuff. I walk past it every day but never been in.

Perhaps this is in reaction to Maplin’s troubles? That would previously have been the only place I would have thought of to buy a Raspberry Pi on the high street.

It would be ace to be able to walk into a RPi shop and be able to purchase LEDs, resistors, OLED screens, ESP8266 modules, breadboards etc.

Maplin was a great shop and open on the weekends was often a lifesaver.

Maplin mostly stocked poor quality products and massively overcharged.

I think charging x10 what a product would cost on eBay is reasonable. But often you’d be charged x100 to x1000 times more for cheap components (resistors etc.). I mostly ended up buying larger packs of parts which might come in handy, because I didn’t want to be overcharged to that degree.

I wouldn’t mind so much if they stocked good quality soldering irons (e.g. Hakko) or good quality hand tools. But they didn’t.

It’s a shame there are no good electronics high street shops left, but I’m not particularly sad to see Maplin go personally.

When Radio Shack in the US still had components for sale, they were absurdly more expensive than Digikey or Mouser. I think I remember a 5 pack of 220ohm resistors being $2.99. Digikey will sell you 100 for under two dollars.

I suppose it would have to do if you're in a pinch, but there's a reason walk-in electronics stores have mostly vanished.

It was still a lifesaver when I wanted resistors, LEDs or other components ASAP.

$3 is still cheaper than digikey shipping.

If they don't sell all that, what do they sell? Just RPi? In which case it probably is just an advert, not a store as such.

It was sad to see Maplin go. Does anyone know of any other DIY electronics stores / chains in the UK? (I miss JayCar in AU, or what DSE/Dick Smiths used to be before it went under)

Rapid Electronics or Farnell are the ones I use. Online only as far as I know, but that's fine by me, the Maplin staff rarely knew anything of use IME, and delivery is fast enough.

There is also RS Components - the RS / Farnell rivalry (or duopoly) is the big one for low volume electronic components in the UK. RS do have trade counters in a couple of dozen industrial estates around the country but I think they are only open office hours.

Interesting, RS indeed has some physics stores, one close enough to me! Thanks!

You know, when I said rapid I actually meant RS!

Yes I’ve used RS and Farnell in the past. Hoping for someplace that I could easily reach same day to buy parts, rather than wait for delivery etc. Last one I needed was some small screws to attach a mSATA, but pointless to wait a day and was preventing me from working on the project. Could imagine the same thing with SATA adapters, power cables, etc.

I Hope it's more of games workshop type affair. You're just not going to have useful staff that know about this equipment long term operating a shop floor. You can barely get anyone that knows much about a phone beyond the box from phone specialists.

Agreed. I was thinking more of a hacker space that little Timmy's mum would be happy to visit.

I cant see it surviving as just a shop. Shops can't even survive selling full size PCs, there isn't that much more repeat custom to expect from something that costs 2 orders of magnitude less.

Games Workshop is a fantastic template for a hacker-hobbyist store. I have never played miniatures games, but I was always impressed by how packed the store near my old apartment was.

Interesting move, but why? Are they really planning to or currently selling to the general retail public?

Given that it's a university town with strong tech links, the general retail public in Cambridge is going to be quite different to the general retail public in most of the rest of the UK.

I'm not convinced the idea makes sense financially, unless they're selling all of the extras and kit parts needed to make the Pi do something useful.

If they are, then fine. If not this might look a little like a vanity move - not because it's a bad idea, but because retail in the UK can be insanely expensive to run, and it's outrageously hard to make it profitable.

In my understanding, the new reality here is that brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly becoming showrooms to support online sales, with brands closing smaller shops and focusing on big "experiential" flagship stores.

The description somebody else gave here of the Pi shop as "more of an event space than a store" would tie in well with this strategy.

Yeah that's what I've noticed, too. In Cambridge we have a Tesla store in the main shopping centre, which is just a Model S and a Model X on display in a small room with some people that talk about it. I don't think they actually make any sales there, it's just for marketing purposes.

I may be wrong, but I believe that’s how almost every Tesla showroom operates. It’s arguably one of the upsides of their direct sales model vs the traditional dealership.

They usually do make sales, or direct you to the site to complete the purchase, but the whole experience is supposed to be designed to improve on the classic horrid car dealership sales process.

> I don't think they actually make any sales there, it's just for marketing purposes.

They do. The sales process is basically the Sales Rep sitting you in front of a PC and letting you order it through the Tesla website while they sit idly by to answer any questions and guide you through the ordering process. It takes less than 15 minutes.

It's stupid simple and zero pressure compared to regular automotive sales.

For clarification, the entire process isn't done in front of a PC in the showroom and everything you do in the showroom you can also do from home.

In the showroom you customize your vehicle, place a reservation order, and pay an initial order amount (e.g. ~$3500 for the Model 3). You'll then receive two emails, the first confirms your order and the second provides you next steps you must perform.

The next steps are:

1 - Select Delivery Location

2 - Provide copies of Driver's License

3 - Provide proof of Vehicle Insurance

4 - Provide Payment Method

5 - Process Trade-In

The steps don't have to be completed in any particular order but I was instructed to wait on steps 3 and 4 until after I received a hard delivery date from Tesla.

It's all handled electronically and is relativity simple. The Payment can also be done upon delivery.

Yes, they're selling a variety of extras and kit parts. And soldering irons.

They’re already marketed as hobby kits to the general public. In fact wasn’t that the entire idea from the start? Who do you think was buying them before?

They already do to an extent, you can buy them and many accessories at micro center.

Makes sense - their offices are (were?) based in Cambridge just up the road from the city centre and about a 15min walk from the new shop. Little trivia: in my previous job I worked in the offices that would be taken over by Raspberry Pi a couple of years later :)

Yes, they are based in Cambridge and so is the main Broadcom office in the UK. And so is Arm...

Yeah I work in the office next to them, same floor same building. And previously worked for Arm. And I have a friend working at Qualcomm just down the road from me, too. Quite a small little world here :)

It's surprising that it has become the best selling British computer even it being a hobbyist oriented product

It's not surprising, actually considering its price point and the fact that previous full-blown British computers date from a time when computers were not a commodity.

There is a history of having hobbyist computers being wildly popular in the UK, see the 1980s.

I suppose previous British computers such as the BBC, ZX Spectrum etc weren't generally known and available globally like the Pi is.

If you've ever worked on a vintage British car's electrical system, you wouldn't be surprised that the only thing the global marketplace decided the British should handle, electrically, would be hobby-oriented. </smacktalk>

I would pay real money for an Rpi with Lucas components. Extra if it could somehow be convinced to leak oil and not boot when the outside temp is below 10C.

When did the British start calling shops ‘stores’?

In both standard written and colloquial British English it's almost always "shop", but the term "store" is normal in the jargon used by people in the retail business. It's quite common to hear the word "store" used in a public announcement in a shop, for example.

There are many things like that. For example, normal people say "tin", in my experience, but the signs in a shop seem to use "can" more often than "tin", bizarrely. You'd probably find many similar example if you walked round some UK shops looking at all the labels.

There's also a whole work/office jargon used in modern Britain: words and grammar that people use at work but wouldn't normally use at home or in the pub.

In general I don't like jargon. To me it seems both pretentious and small-minded. On the other hand, an obscure technical term, used correctly, is like a beam of sunlight or a breath of fresh air. To me, at least. Though they sometimes borrow from each other, jargon and technical vocabulary are very different things.

It was always a "department store" when talking about Harrods Debenhams and so on etc a shop is more your local butcher or corner store (bodega)

Purchase vs buy, beverage vs drink. Not sure what the point in these slightly more technical sounding words that people seem to like to use.

Utilise vs use is the one that makes me want to get a bit stabby, especially when they correct their use of the word use to change it for utilise.

Sorry, I mean inclined to lacerate.

Traditionally (in the UK), it was reserved for large, varied shops like department stores. However, the American usage to mean any shop has certainly been spreading in business-speak for a fair while.

From the OED (the entry has not been updated recently):

> Chiefly N. Amer. and elsewhere outside the U.K. In early use, a shop on a large scale, and dealing in a great variety of articles (see quot. 18082). Now, equivalent to the British use of shop n. 3.

> The use of the word in this sense has not become common in the U.K. except in Comb., as chain store n. at chain n. Compounds 3, department store n. at department n. 5 (see under the first elements), store detective n. at Compounds 1d(a), in which it still refers to a large shop.

I've generally found a division between well known brands as 'stores' and local businesses as 'shops'.

I might refer to the "Apple store", but would always refer to the local barber shop or coffee shop.

The retail chain British Home Stores was founded in 1928, so at least since then.

I wasn't aware until now that this is considered an Americanism.

The retail chain British Home Stores was founded in 1928, so at least since then.

I wasn't aware until now that this is considered an Americanism

BHS was founded by by a group of U.S. entrepreneurs, however, it is generally accepted usage to refer to various retail spaces as shops or stores synonymously. Some even use it as their brand identity e.g. The Body Shop, The Gift Shop, The Tie Store and now defunct Army & Navy Stores et al.

Nevertheless, there are certain distinctions to be made, i.e. when someone says 'I am nipping out to the shops - do you want anything?' usually means a visit to small local independent shops/convenience stores, colloquially referred to as corner shops (bodega/deli) situated on the High Street and not mean Harrods, albeit it might also qualify as a local shop for some of the residents in Knightsbridge.


British Home Stores was founded by Americans! That's why it's called a 'store'.

Much more common this century than last. In the 80s it would have been mainly just shops. Apple, had they had them back then, would have found their flagship store called the Apple shop by one and all. :)

Anecdata, most Australians would probably be ambivalent to either term. Shop or Store? They're synonymous. Just to let you know, and to keep you updated on international terminology :-)

Brit here. I'd personally never use "store" except for "department store", but it's use does seem to be becoming more prevelant.

Another Brit here. We are mostly familiar with the term 'Apple Store.' I imagine that's why the bbc are calling it a Pi store. English has always been a mish mash of words from different languages and cutures.

I think since forever, although I'm just a foreigner, but I'm on my 6th year in London.

When did they not?

Looking forward to doing a trip to Cambridge to check it out. Did it open already?

It opens on Thursday apparently.

Every time I see that case it irks me that it can't close with dupont cables attached to the GPIO pins, not just the lid, the whole case is useless. Other than that... Love the Pi, love the idea of a store.

I wouldn't be surprised if the store eventually meets a similar demise to the "MakerBot Store" on Newbury street in Boston did a few years back.

Really cool stuff, just nobody ever really seemed to have a reason to buy anything of reason in the store.

I bought filament for my home-built 3-d printer there maybe once - only because it was higher quality than what MicroCenter carried and was a color I'd otherwise have to order.

But obv most people in the store weren't buying $2k 3d printers - anyone who happened to already own a 3d printer knew that MakerBot's tech was garbage.

Hurry up and announce a Raspberry Pi 4 already! I want to give you more money

Same here, but only if it doesn't need > 3.5 amp PSU.

It can require that, but only when it uses USB3.0-PD.

That's not entirely correct.

It seems like the issue is current spikes, and those can occur under far more conditions (HDMI, external USB devices, etc.).

I suspect that beefing up the power system filtering would reduce the power supply maximum current requirements quite dramatically.

What I meant is that I'm annoyed by the lack of compatibility with standards that could provide the required amount of power to a rPi, the current microUSB implementation is awful and shouldn't be repeated.

Ah. My comment was more along the lines of "If they redid the power system with better filtering, they could make it work with 5V, 500mA and operate on standard USB." However, Broadcom won't give us plebians access to the documentation, perhaps I'm being too optimistic, and this really is the best they can do.

The Beaglebone Black guys seem to work inside a 5V 500mA envelope quite well. At the very least, they don't seem to have anywhere near the issues that the RPi folks seem to.

3.5A @ 240v or 5v? Watt is "power" current is largely meaningless without voltage

Are there any SBCs that run on 240v!? The RPi is 5v. Unless you're deliberately ignoring the whole context of the conversation just to be pedantic.

At 5V. 17.5 watts (absolute maximum), not 840 or 420 watts.

Is there a computer in the Raspberry Pi price range that has >=4gb RAM and can play full HD movies? The 1GB limit is basically what's keeping me from using a Pi as my main computer.

>and can play full HD movies

Can you be more specific? "Full HD" usually refers to 1080p, which all Raspberry Pi models can easily handle for h264 video due to their hardware decoder. The Raspberry Pi 3 can handle most other formats through software just fine, though it may struggle with more intense formats like 10 bit h265. For that, an Odroid C2 may be what you're looking for. They advertise:

>H.265 4K/60FPS and H.264 4K/30FPS capable VPU

Yeah, I'm looking for something that has some hardware support for h264 and a sufficient amount of RAM that is not too expensive and only uses a few Watts.

Pretty much all RPis can handle this, depending on your definition of "sufficient amount of RAM".

Check out ODROID: https://www.hardkernel.com/

It doesn't have that much RAM but they have models with 8 core CPUs, USB3, and one with SATA. They're around $50.

ROCK64 is currently your best bet AFAIK.


The rpi foundation are in trouble. The current SoC is old, limited at 1GB maximum RAM, and the GPU core is dated from 2011, 8 years ago.

In my opinion they should severe ties with Broadloom and open up to global competition.

There is inherent value in having a stable, battle tested platform. The fact that the same chip has been sold for general public for the last 8 years is to me rather appealing than a turn off.

Given the complexity of the modern software stack, there have been a zillion bugs that have ruined someone elses day and have been hopefully fixed.

Although, I have no idea of the support quality of the Pi foundation since I have not used their products.

The platform is sufficiently beefy to run lot of non-trivial applications. It's not like those applications have magically increased in complexity.

We've just been brainwashed in the consumer space to always demand bigger numbers so that the vendors have something new to sell. There is really no need for a certain category of desktop applications to get any slower with time, or, to be able to provide any more value regardless how fast they are run if the interactivity level is already so fast that improvements would be undetectable by humans.

Note: this is not an argument that the current Pi "is fast enough for everything". I'm saying it's fast enough for some things, and the mature software stack is considerable added value.

I agree with this sentiment, but I do think that the RPi Foundation is going to have a hard time improving from their current state without breaking backwards compatibility, because they made some decisions early on that no longer make much sense today.

The big ones, in my opinion, are the write-limited, slow SD card interface, the microUSB power connector, the 1GB maximum RAM, Ethernet that shares bandwidth with USB, and ever-increasing power requirements.

I think the Pi Foundation wants to churn out more new units by increasing the CPU speed, but with the super slow SD interface and the capped-out RAM, performance hasn’t made significant improvements in a long time.

I also think it was a bad decision to not focus on open-source software with the Pi. They have been including proprietary user space applications forever (Mathematica, for instance), the GPU boots a proprietary ThreadX operating system that has DMA and complete CPU control, and the thing requires lots of binary blobs to boot. The education aspect (particularly as a low-level programming platform) would have been made more accessible without such an opaque boot process.

"The education aspect (particularly as a low-level programming platform) would have been made more accessible without such an opaque boot process."

Not that I disagree, but as a counterpoint learning programming with Scratch has very little to do with getting to know the implementation details of the underlying computational substrate. I'm a software professional and I can't bother with that stuff! I'm far more interested in fiddling with my programs than tweaking the underlying substrate. I don't think this is a stance everyone should take but I don't feel a worse person because of it. I can administer my own machine but I don't enjoy it.

I cant speak for anyone else, but I got into programming from using Linux. The fact that you have all these languages just there, and its all an open system etc really encourages you that yes this is something you can do, and not just toy examples. I've seen the same point made about boot to Basic, 8 bit computers also.

I don't by contrast program on my phone because it just feels like a gimmicky toy.

I'm not saying the raspberry pi is anything like a phone in this regard, but in does have a limit to how far you can dig, and that's a real shame.

Is it limiting to the scratch programmers? Probably not, but the Scratch programmers read about and move on Python, who then move on C. But if the boot process isn't open, there isn't anyone to write about it, so people don't discover it. Which for an educational endeavour is problematic.

By the time person has moved on to C from scratch I find it likely they would have acquired a less restrained computer. Likewise, the fact you can't easily reverse engineer a rasberry does not stop one from getting a less restrained computer.

Maybe this is true, but I would much rather work on my own operating system as an experiment on a small, simpler, inexpensive machine that I wouldn’t feel bad messing up. Although I applaud what the RPi people have done for computing education, this still feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Possibly but if all your family have is a tablet, or a computer that they don't want 'experimenting' with.

I suppose they quite like the fact that if you build something on Rpi you have to buy from Rpi and can't go on to design your own board and buy the SoC from Broadcom.

Is this true? It seems there are plenty of SBCs out there that share an identical form factor and are pin-compatible with the Pi's GPIO.

None has the broadcom chip. So if you want to make a custom hardware project based on the broadcom chip that's in Rpi you can't. So if that's on your radar as an eventuality, you can just as well ignore the whole rpi thing, and start with more easily available chinese SoCs. That's why there's much more hacker friendly innovation around Allwinner SoCs for example, than the SoCs that are used in rpi.

There's also no crypto core and 64bit userland support (that could allow actually secure ASLR).

Objectively, they don't seem to be in trouble, they seem to be expanding. The stable ecosystem with documentation aimed at beginners is the product, and it's a popular one. It's not as performance-dependent as you might think.

Is anyone aware of a way to cheaply purchase multiple Raspberry Pi Zero W's? They are sold at $10 but are limited to 1 per person. If you want to buy more, the price is around $20 each. That's a big price difference if you are buying 30 out of pocket to teach a class.

If you're going to teach a class, I'd recommend going out of your way to give each student a Pi 3 Model B+. The additional ports means that the device can be useful as a general-purpose computer outside of class (just hook up a keyboard, mouse, and monitor/TV).

I realize the difference between $300 and $1050 is a lot, but you get way more hardware at the $35 price point. Building the institutional muscle to figure out how to get the additional $650 in funding is a good skill set as a teacher. (If you're at a school, there might be special funds set aside for buying STEM equipment you can tap into. You might also be able to get some money through the charity arms of local companies, or out of a local bank's petty cash fund. If you're teaching students at the middle-school or high-school age, you can ask them to help with the fundraising process. If you're teaching adults, just charge each adult a fee to cover the hardware cost.)

> just charge each adult a fee to cover the hardware cost

That seems a quick way to discourage adults from taking programming courses. Should they pay for a chair and table too? Or a screen? Of course not, that cost is amortised across many classes.

It's ridiculous that the Foundation makes bulk purchasing so difficult when the original vision for the RPi was for education. But that was fairly quickly forgotten when it became the darling of hackerspaces and upselling became the priority.

I can't help you but a workaround might be to ask each student in the class (or their parents) to purchase one individually.

I suspect if you contact them directly as an educator they would be able to arrange something.

I'm wondering how brexit will affect Raspberry Pi pricing?

No one can really answer this with certainty, given (somewhat tragically) no one has agreed what “Brexit” even is yet.

As one example, if May’s current deal somehow was to be made tenable to Parliament, there would probably be little/no change at all.

Looking at the photos, this looks more like an event space than a store.

Still, good to see the Raspberry Pi team continuing to fulfil their mission.


Hmm, I'm not sure. People who are curious about RasPi already know what it is, and people who wander in to the store wondering what it is are not THAT likely to pick one up. If it hasn't cost them much to do, then great, but I'm not sure if it's necessary. New models already all sell out immediately

That actually looks like it costs a bit. I wonder if they get a good return on the investment. Would more people decide to buy into the RPi ecosystem because they walked into the store as opposed to reading about it all over the internet or talking to friends? It's a running cost so it has to bring a steady flow of income to pay for itself. Hard to do in a relatively niche market with a good product that depreciates very slowly.

But who knows, they probably did the math better than me, random internet commenter #9643.

Malls and shopping centres are really struggling, as they are in the US. If you're a mall with a number of vacant units, you may be more than willing to lease a unit to an interesting business at a cheap rate; an empty unit earns you nothing and makes the overall retail experience less attractive.

Raspberry Pi is the kind of product that could really benefit from a quality retail experience. I suspect there are a lot of parents who might have heard of Raspberry Pi, but don't really know what it's all about and don't have the confidence to buy a kit and try it out with their kids. If you've sold someone a Raspberry Pi and given them good advice on how to use it, you're substantially more likely to go on to sell them a robot kit or a 3d printer or a bunch of Adafruit goodies.

> Raspberry Pi is the kind of product that could really benefit from a quality retail experience.

I don't know about the experience, but this product has some retail presence in US & Canada.


> I wonder if they get a good return on the investment.

On just sales income it seems doubtful.

But in the end the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a non-profit whose goal is to get kids interested in programming, and give them the hardware they can experiment on without worrying about breaking your parents' or school computer. Sales to "hackers" is just a side business.

An event space / showroom can help with that mission for kids and parents who might not buy online and get started on their own.

Perhaps they got a special deal on a short (sub)lease. It would be interesting to know which shop they replaced, or whether they have taken over a space that had been empty for some time. They are not yet mentioned on the Grand Arcade web site, but I've taken a copy of their current site map so that I can do the comparison in due course.

The photos put them opposite Charles Clinkard, which means they're occupying a unit that's been vacant long enough for it to appear empty on the shopping centre map.

The centre map file was last modified on October 18th last year, though the modification may have been to some other part of the map.

The shopping centre is owned by USS, the universities pension scheme; I don't know if that counts for something in terms of being able to get discounted leases.

> People who are curious about RasPi already know what it is

I'm not sure about that. The Raspberry Pi foundation is big on the education market. I can definitely imagine a parent having heard about a raspberry pi but not really understanding what it is in detail wanting to talk it through with someone.

I can also imagine them running hack days for kids there (kind of like games workshop allow you to play with warhammer in their shop).

I can see some benefit, even if it's just keeping their brand visible to the market. It shows they're not going away any time soon and might just help keep momentum.

As a multiple* RPi user, it's always heartening to see them doign well.

*(1) media player with TV, (2) wireless music player in kitchen, (3) VPN server in the cupboard, (4) temperature sensor in the garage.

I actually disagree about people not picking them up. If a child does not have "techy" parents then it's entirely possible that they're not aware of the rpi. Additionally, they're cheap enought that many people might just pick one up on the spot with the potential that their child would enjoy the learning potential.

Cambridge UK, not Cambridge Massachusetts.

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