250,000 Pi Zero W Sold
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Friday, 05 May 2017

In nine weeks the Raspberry Pi Foundation states that it has sold 250,000 Pi Zero W single board computers. This is all the more amazing because the one Zero per order restriction is still in force. This is all very strange.

The Pi Zero W is an ideal IoT device. It is cheap at $10 (or £10) and it does it all. It may only be a single core processor but with built-in Bluetooth and WiFi it is capable of most jobs.

There are other devices in the same price range, and even with similar hardware specs, but the level of community support for the Pi is a big attraction. You don't want to spend months designing and implementing some gadget only to discover that the board you based it on has been discontinued. There are only a few devices that are popular enough to be secure and none more so than the Pi. You could say that its success gives it a big edge and it is going to be hard for anything else to break into the market wihout being phenomenally good or simply compatible. 


The Pi Zero W makes things so much more possible. If you want to create a sensor network then it is perfectly reasonable to allocate one Pi Zero W to each sensor location. They can all communicate using WiFi and this means no need to get involved with new technologies like LoRa and similar. There is a power supply problem because the Pi Zero W isn't a low power device, but it is more or less manageable. 

Now we come to the problem. There is still a limit of one Pi Zero of any type per order. This is supposed to stop someone from buying up 100s of the things and then selling them at a premium. The claimed 250,000 devices in nine weeks is a lot of single Pi Zero W orders. This is roughly a production run of 30,000 per week and you can appreciate that scaling this up is not an easy task. It is stated that the one per order will stay in place until production equals demand and this has to make you wonder what the demand actually is? 

It is likely to be larger than the one per order situation suggests because there are people planning to use the Pi Zero W in courses and want to buy tens in one go. Then there are people like me who have had a sensor network planned since the Pi Zero was announced and still can't buy enough devices. Not to mention anyone who has a plan to use a Pi Zero in a product. 

You might say at this point what does it matter? 

The reason it matters is that the very existence of the Pi Zero is a block on other manufacturers stepping in to fill the gap. Remember the arguments about not wanting to use anything else because of its community support? The ongoing shortage of Pi Zero's is holding things back and it is a distortion of the market. 

It is also strange that while the one per order is still in force the Pi Foundation has announced more Pi Zero distributors worldwide - in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Greece, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, USA and Canada. While I'm not wanting to deny the citizens of these countries better access to the Pi Zero, the thought passes though my mind that, while there is a shortage, increasing the number of distributors isn't the most obvious thing to do. 


More Information

250,000 Pi Zero W Units Shipped And More Pi Zero Distributors Announced

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10 Million Raspberry Pis 

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Last Updated ( Friday, 05 May 2017 )