Wow this sounds worse than job exporting in the USA
What's inside the box? That's not a box, its a large paper weight. The random stuff inside is just to add weight.
e.g. most IT related products are free of duties due to strategic reasons. others have a penalty when imported from countries that do allow/finance price dumping.
If you, as a private person, import goods (shipping) into the EU and it's value is beyond 150€, then you don't have to pay any duties except import-VAT (which is usually the same as the VAT of your country, like 19% in Germany). If you take the goods with you, e.g. back from holiday shopping spree, the minimum is even higher.
They're going to do what manufacturing they can in the UK, even though it would net them a lot more money to do it overseas. Awesome.
The reason I mention this is that "even though it would net them a lot more money" means that by doing it in the UK it isn't hurting shareholders, but the charity's goals - as mentioned in the blog itself.
I don't know whether it would be better to have £x more profit for the charity or to make y more boards in the UK, but either way you have to assume they're doing what they think is best as a charity.
I would actually prefer this company to be FOR-PROFIT, so they have an economic incentive to continue increasing the performance per dollar. I am afraid this will be a one-off product that eventually dies off because there's no incentive to innovate further.
(I'm aware that capitalism's a sensitive subject, so to be clear: this is an honest question)
Also it occurs to me that while a focus on local may cost gains found in economies of scale, it can net gains in terms of spreading out the burden of negative externalities. This one is murky and not always a clear win one way or the other though.
Are they funded?
Indeed – and I’m pretty sure that those psychic people would be a bit more cautious if it was their mortgage that this thing was secured on
It'd be nothing like what she could earn in industry, but enough to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. And a Raspberry Pi in every room.
From my point of view, the idea that I can't pre-order something because they are already funded is odd.
Additionally, as it takes USB power for the computer itself, having a monitor with USB ports would enable you to power the entire computer with only a short USB cable. You could then mount the small case to the back of the monitor, perhaps to make everything neat.
Having lived in/through/with the birth/blossoming/commercialization of both the microcomputer and the non-factory robotics businesses, I find the breathless ecstasy of 'getting into production' a wonderful thing, but its a lot like falling in love, there are a lot of things that happen next that you're going to have to live through.
Given that they are taking nearly zero margin on these devices (at least according to this post), they have many pot holes to look out for:
1) Their Chinese factory turns out to be some guy's brother-in-law who got them a cheap price because he's using counterfeit parts. Or worse the guy that bid for the job expects to build the factory to build them with the money your going to pay him up front.
2) Their board vendor tech sneezed and accidentally added a direct short to the films they are using to make the boards.
3) The part they ordered for the USB connector is discontinued by the vendor who gave them a price of $0.25 and its now only available from some other vendor for $2.25 each.
4) The pick and place robot put a set of boards on 90 degrees out of kilter, so the entire batch has all the parts soldered into the wrong places.
5) The customs guys open them up, and not seeing the requisite safety symbol/OfCom/FCC/ISO/CET whatever certificate denies them entry into the country
The list goes on and on. One of the challenges of manufacturing is knowing not only what the parts cost but what costs the system is going to impose on you. You need to build in a margin that covers both otherwise you'll underestimate what it will cost you to build a product.
So new manufacturing experience aside (and its going to be a great learning experience if they can keep reminding themselves that it is a learning experience), it sounds like they have a really great way of bringing home to the politicians how their policies affect jobs locally. It almost seems like a reasonably responsive government should sponsor some group to manufacture a new product domestically and then carefully track the barriers to doing so and eliminate those that are amenable to a political fix. Tariffs on imported semi-conductors (protecting the local fabs?) and electronic components when such components cannot be locally sourced seems like a good starting point.
I certainly hope they will be able bring that message clearly to Parliament. It would be refreshing to have really hard to object to facts in the debates going on.
You can see the trustees here:
David Braben has been in the computer games field since the 1980s and has made a fair amount of money from it, Eben Upton works for Broadcom (the chip supplier for the Pi), and the rest are all pretty well known in their fields too.
So overall, I think they should by now know what they're doing, and with Braben on board should have some money to make it happen.
"... some architect designs something and thinks that I can just bend over and pull a few thousand out of my ass. Doesn't he get that someone has to build the fucking thing and then somehow we have get them here?"
It was my first exposure to the more sordid details of getting a piece of hardware from prototype into production. For years up to that point I could easily get 10 or 100 of something made, but I hadn't ever tried to get 10,000 made, or had contracts in place to have them made on a regular basis.
Manufacturing acuity is not in the standard make up of senior technical people, its a process puzzle but with people rather than logic, with regulations rather than resource constraints, and with cash rather than electricity. The art of creating streams of parts which arrive at facility to take part in a process of assembly (and perhaps sub assembly) test and delivery, is a very different skill than designing an SoC.
That being said, its an amazing sight to behold when its all working right, sort of an eternal Rube Goldberg machine. And some folks make it look effortless.
Fortunately there's a massive amount of buzz around this project, so even if the initial batches are unreliable and the units get to market at double the initial intended price, people are willing to put up with it. Perhaps the initial buzz is not a bad strategy, since it has a similar effect to Microsoft's strategy in the 90s. Many people hold off on buying other things waiting for this product, and even if it's not delivering as promised they are now psychologically invested in it.
As you say, it's also a good way for many people to learn about the barriers UK manufacturers have to face. I hope this will help bring about some change.
Looking at the comments to their FAQ - http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs#comment-3239 - reselling devices based on the Raspberry Pi is OK.
You should be able to control that with a small script (python, perl, etc. anything that can write to a serial port) that you keep running on any computer in your parents' or your own home. X10's advertising is notoriously lowbrow, but the hardware itself is decent and a little googling will find you a lot of hackers that have done crazy stuff with it.
OpenMAX code is quite fragile in my experience (from trying to use such libraries on Android phones) so I was wondering about writing a Python wrapper (based on the ctypes module) for the video encode/decode to make it easier to use. (Unless someone has done this already?)
You could go one step further with that and project a "growl" style wall notification system. When I'm in the kitchen I often miss people trying to get into contact with me via IM or whatever, it would be great to see notifications on a surface or something to say "X has just messaged you!" or whatever
Assembled computers are listed under heading 8471 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which is used by all trading nations. (They are referred to as "automatic data-processing machines"; the terminology and categories are all quite archaic.) The UK imposes no import duty on computers of any type.
Parts and accessories "suitable for use solely or principally with" computers are listed under heading 8473.30 and likewise can enter the UK duty-free. It's possible that some required components are listed elsewhere in the HTS and that those are not duty-free. But that seems unlikely; almost everything in Chapters 84 & 85, which cover all electronics, can enter the UK free of duties.
I'm not familiar enough with the UK tariff regime to know whether there are other considerations beyond the base duty rate. (But it doesn't look like it; the relevant Acts of Parliament setting duties for each class of good are noted on the BusinessLink site linked below.) So I have no idea what import tariffs Raspberry Pi need (or think they need) to pay. It certainly doesn't look like the UK has some screwy import regime that penalizes firms wanting to assemble computers there.
1. So long as the goods' country of origin has "most favored nation" status. This means, essentially, that it has normal trade relations with the United States. That includes all members of the World Trade Organization.
It's therefore almost certain nobody except Raspberry Pi's accountant / legal advisors would be able to give the definitive reason, but I am pretty sure it is to do with how components vs full computers are classified for duty purposes.
There are specific import laws designed to aid manufacturing industries, and it could be that these laws need to be extended to component assembly. For example, the UK does very well in car and aerospace manufacturer, and there are import laws regarding components designed to aid this.
If you are purchasing materials that will be resold, or used to build a product that will be sold, you do not need to pay tax on those materials. It's a simple matter to get a sales tax certificate from your state -- you can do this online in many states. When you buy the materials, you give the seller your sales tax ID number and that will remove his need to collect the tax from you and your need to pay it.
So if either of you are audited, he can point to your ID number as the reason he didn't collect and pay tax and you had better be able to show that you collected and paid tax from the people you sold your product to.
In this context, "wholesale" has nothing to do with the quantities and everything to do with the intended usage. If you're intending to make a product or perform a service which would require you to charge sales tax to YOUR customer, then you can usually avoid paying sales tax to your suppliers, because otherwise the state would be collecting from both you when you buy components and your customer when you sell the finished product. That would get sorted out when you file your sales tax return, but it's easier to only have one link in the chain actually pay the tax in the first place and avoid the situation entirely.
Basically, the idea is that unless the buyer or item being sold is specifically covered under an exemption, sales tax should be applied precisely once on its journey from raw material to the hands of its first actual owner, preferably as late as possible so as to capture the product when it's at maximum taxable value. This is in contrast to a VAT, where the tax is applied at every step in the process proportional to how much "value" was added at that step.
Import components -> (pay VAT) build item (reclaim VAT) -> (pay VAT) wholeseller (reclaim VAT) -> (pay VAT) retailer (reclaim VAT) -> (pay VAT) buyer.
As long as you are engaging in commerce you never pay VAT on the items you for your business. Also, there are electronic schemes to speed up the reclamation process. If you have a business ¿TaxID? number some resellers will drop the VAT for you knowing they'll reclaim it anyway.
Most of the projects I think of and don't build are scrapped for want of $50 worth of ridiculous "zigbee" wireless hardware that can barely push 250kbits across the room. The internet of things is made of wifi.
Also, You'd be hard pressed to get a USB Wifi Stick for less than the cost of the whole Raspberry Pi board in my country. Plus as you add more devices Wifi can get very saturated. Installation and configuration of USB Wifi adapters under Linux is a bit of a challenge. Ethernet on the other hand is practically plug and play.
There are also plenty of ideas which can use wired networking. Ideas from home automation to set-top boxes to microservers are all going to benefit from a more stable and high-bandwidth wired connection.
For general tinkering I would rather pay the extra $10 or whatever and get more options in terms of the hardware.
It has a MIPS CPU, has built in 802.11b/g/n, 1 ethernet port, a USB port, and runs at low power off a USB jack (5V). It can be flashed with Linux but you have to navigate chinese menus to do so (not hard).
EDIT: added 'assembled'. Does anyone have a link to the IR rules about this?
Which is a bit of a joke, because really these tariffs should be accessible online for all!
Edit: OK sorry my comment was a load of crap, I was confused. They charge both VAT @%20 and duty @~3% but duty is only charged on a massive and seemingly random list of things.
I seem to remember this being the case when I imported some Beagleboards into the UK for R&D work, and didn't pay import duty on them.
The Raspberry PI has a 32-bit ARM chip that can run Linux. It has a video output, USB for keyboard and mouse, and one version has an Ethernet port. It's aim is to make a cheap general purpose Linux system.
See for instance in Linux http://lxr.free-electrons.com/source/arch/arm for the various Board Support Packages available upstream.
Not to mention that while OpenBSD supports the ARM architecture it might not have drivers for all the IPs integrated in the SoC.
So basically, it won't be plug'n'play like installing a new OS on your new x86 computer, altho the amount of work required to get it to work might not be completely overwhelming if you know what you have to do (especially since the linux source code is available).
Certainly I know friends who bought the fire sale touchpads, and many more who would have if they had the chance, none of which will be buying the raspberry pi - except the really techy ones.
Also, to do with the press it will get. Articles of "huge fire sale, get one while you can!" will be replaced with "this could change education" and "look what you could create with these" pieces.
Don't get me wrong, they will be hugely popular, and 10,000 is far less than the number of touchpads there were. It will also depend, obviously, on the per-customer limits they put in place.
I certainly expect them to sell out fast (will it be minutes, hours or days, I have no idea), but to compare the level of interest to the touchpad fire sale is huge exaggeration.
Using the camera and simple gestures (think Kincect 0.5) make an instant 'hangout' using G+ on your TV. Wave your hand, point at your circle, and blam start hanging out.
I've got like a zillion ideas of ways to turn a $35 board with HDMI+Networking into serious bank. I'm not unique in this regard.
Tiny full-fledged networked computers that are almost free they're so cheap will have a nasty habit of turning previous hardware into easily written software. The patent office/"industry" hasn't the slightest notion of whats about to hit them.
And in terms of stock and availability, to which the above is irrelevant, as I previously mentioned it depends on their per-customer limits, which I'm pretty sure will be in place (at least initially).
Think about it. If people are working there accept such low wages, they probably don't have other options. The alternative is, lower wages?
I mean really, who are you protesting against? The government, right? What does the government care if you don't buy a $25 gadget?