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Where Are the Raspberry Pi Zeros? ( 111

mikejuk writes: The Pi Zero was supposed to be available from November 26, 2015. It is now the start of February and all of the stockists, including the Pi Swag Shop, are still showing out of stock. That's two whole months, and counting, of restricted supply which is more than an initial hiccup. Of course you would expect enough to be made available initially to meet the expected demand. The Pi sells something in the region of 200,000 per month so what do you think the initial run of the Pi Zero actually was? The answer is 20,000 units. Of which 10,000 were stuck to the cover of MagPi and "given away" leaving just 10,000 in the usual distribution channels. And yet Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, commented: "You'd think we'd be used to it by now, but we're always amazed by the level of interest in new Raspberry Pi products," Well yes, you really would think that they might be used to it by now and perhaps even prepared for it. At the time of writing the Pi Zero is still out of stock and when it is briefly in stock customers are limited to one unit.
A victim of its own success, yes, but the real victims are the Raspberry Pi's competitors.

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Where Are the Raspberry Pi Zeros?

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  • the Schedules (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dave Whiteside ( 2055370 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @10:48AM (#51462617) []
    basically there are 2 re sellers in the UK and 2 in the US
    they get alternative deliveries

    • I've noticed Adafruit runs out of the zero within minutes of stock, but the more expensive "kits" may last several hours. I think it really comes down to the 5 dollar price point not being profitable and thus not being a priority. I'm sure at 35 dollars the B+ has at least _some_ wiggle room.
    • And even without the schedules, the sellers will tell you when they arrive.
      I wanted one, so i kept an eye on pihut, and they announced on their twitter when they'd have new stock, so i made sure i was ready to buy one then, and got one of the second batch they sold. And i'm by no means someone who uses twitter (literally the first time i've ever had use for it, found the post by googling). But if you really want one, how hard is it really to just keep up to date a bit with the shop you know sells it... they

  • by pijokela ( 462279 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @10:50AM (#51462637)

    For me, the Pi Zero is pretty much useless, because it has no networking. No wireless, no wired. Nothing.

    So, if someone says they were not sure if people would buy them, I believe that. Looks like there are a lot of people that have completely different uses for their Pies than mine. Go figure.

    • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @10:54AM (#51462671) Homepage Journal

      The use case is much closer to that of an Arduino, than that of the Rasberry B. So, unless you are looking to do embedded type stuff, then you are probably not the right market.

      • by bangular ( 736791 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:18AM (#51462843)
        The zero is definitely in an awkward spot. It's so-so as a microcontroller replacement (no low power modes, limited number of analog inputs, inputs not 5v tolerant), but the price point makes it otherwise competitive. The ESP8266 is getting high level languages like Lua, micro python, and Basic and priced well. The "low power mode" sucks because it basically just resets the unit and doesn't have interrupt driven wake modes.

        I bought a zero and it will probably be my only purchase. It just doesn't seem to do anything special.
        • The pi actually has no analog inputs (I thought it had one).
        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Since you have experience... I've often had interest in physical computing, but have never gotten around to learning / messing around with it. What would you find to be a good "introductory" system (for someone with lots of programming experience but only grade-school/100-in-1-electronics-kit/basic soldering/etc level electronics experience) for the purposes of, say, controlling steppers, variable-RPM drive motors, taking voltage readings, etc?

          • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @12:58PM (#51463713)
            The arduino fits this role perfectly. I have a few years experience building remote data collection sensors and very little computation ability is required You don't even need to do calibration, just record raw data. I was doing this on a TRS-80 100 [] in the 1980's with no problem collecting data (about 2 dozen sensors) over a few months time. Where the rpi would come in handy is its ease of use of large storage space. I think you can do that with the arduino also, but have not tried.

            One of the things I have planed to do with my rpi is to set up a remote station on a tall mountain about 12km from my house. I could set up a camera and talk to the whole thing over an xbee rs-232 tcp link (ppp) at 28.8kbaud. With a small solar panel this would run indefinitely and provide me with weather data and a view of the whole area.

            • Unfortunately the pi draws a fair amount of current doing nothing. I've used the pi in a solar based project and the pi ended up using more energy than my solenoid. I ended up using an Arduino and a relay to turn the pi off to conserve energy. It also made the project somewhat complicated because you can't just power off the pi, you have to do a proper linux shutdown. You have to coordinate with the AVR to say "OK to kill power now." You're typically looking at about 100mA to 300mA depending the model. The
              • It also made the project somewhat complicated because you can't just power off the pi, you have to do a proper linux shutdown.

                I know it wouldn't apply to a logging project, but isn't it a limitation of the distro? I've read about "no-writes" distros that you can shut down at any time.

              • Arduino and a relay to turn the pi off to conserve energy

                This is exactly my idea if need be, but I can get 500wh/day of energy at the very least (winter snow on new years). The most I'd ever need to store is ~90wh (15h @500ma).

          • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @01:18PM (#51463877)

            Currently, I am totally in love with the PyBoard, available form AdaFruit in the US. The PyBoard is the reference implementaiton of MicroPython, which is Python 3.x ported to microcontrollers. Very nice implementation of Python -- a (very) few differences from CPython because you are running on a limited amount of physical memory on bare metal, but a very, very nice version of Python. I am telling all my robot-building friends about it every chance I get.

            That said, the Arduino has a huge community by virtue of having been around a long, long time. You can get a RedBoard (my favorite Arduino clone) from SparkFun for lunch money, so if you toast one, who cares? I recently did a real, live, paying contract using an Arduino Micro, which uses a Mega 324, which a much more capable processor than the Mega328 that is on the basic Arduino boards. SparkFun has a "SparkFun Inventor's Kit" around the RedBoard that gives you a selection of sensors and actuators to plug in, and a project guide. You might like that as a way to get started.

            Also... about blowing things up.... don't fear the magic smoke. As a youth I was deathly afraid of toasting my components. That probably had to do with my limited allowance :/ I would have accomplished more had I simply forged ahead, seeing the occasional dead component for what it is: the cost of tuition. The great thing about being able to buy a whole computer for the cost of a burrito and beer is that fear of magic smoke is no longer a thing.

        • I've got some old webcams that I'd like to use Zeros for. Turn them into motion-sensitive security cameras with a FIFO buffer (on SD card). I've got some old Bluetooth dongles for networking purposes, and a powered hub or two. Should make a decent little setup after a little experimentation.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @02:27PM (#51464403) Homepage Journal

          I see the Zero a bit different. It is a full linux machine which the ESP8266 is not. It has HDMI out which the ESP8266 does not.
          Put a USB wifi adaptor on it and you have a linux box that you can put on the back of a monitor have it work well for signage or other displays.
          Very different devices for different uses. the ESP8266 is great for say a weather station, maybe a simple robot. The Zero is for projects that need full Linux and maybe a display.
          Even combining an ESP8266 with a zero is an option as well using the ESP for IO and Wifi and the Zero for processing.

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *


      My well meaning but non-tech savvy sister got me one for Christmas and I'm at a loss what to do with the thing. The lack of ethernet in particular makes it useless for just about anything I would use the thing for, the main selling point for me was always "arduino with effortless network connectivity".

      • Yup.

        My well meaning but non-tech savvy sister got me one for Christmas and I'm at a loss what to do with the thing.

        Sell it on eBay, they're going for a premium. Win win: you unload a white elephant and somebody who really really wants one gets it.

      • It's even bad as an Arduino replacement. The Arduino is a microcontroller with no high-latency general-purpose computing paths; the Pi has system buses and a memory management unit. Where the Arduino can just go straight to hardware and RAM, the Pi has to dawdle around waiting for interrupts and timing systems to give access to devices, and has to wait for row precharges and other operations before it can access memory. A 10uS operation becomes a 2mS operation because of a memory stall.
    • I've been in dozens of those meetings:

      Lone Idiot: "Let's make a million of them for the first run and see if anybody buys them."
      Everybody else: "Let's not."
      • sales person: we sold 10 millions of pieceofcrap#1, we had a 5 month wait list first time we introduced it, pieceofcrap#2 is 4 times cheaper, we could sell one million in a day.
        marketing moron: but think of the PR if we run out of stock again!!1

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I, for one, welcome our new Lone Idiot Overlords.

    • No wireless

      Less space than a Nomad too.

    • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

      Looks like there are a lot of people that have completely different uses for their Pies than mine

      I'm waiting to get my hands on a Pi Zero. I don't need networking, wired or wireless, I don't need external storage or lots of RAM, it's for a single purpose task using a USB port and its video output to sit between a microscope webcam and a junkbox TFT display. Five dollars is a bargain, a regular Pi with all the extra bells and whistles is a waste of money for this project (basic image processing for automate

    • I got one, figured out that I couldn't use it and ended up giving it away. Once I get the hub and networking on it the price point is the same as a PI2. The tiny footprint really doesn't make that much difference. In my case the ESP8266 wireless chips work out better for small, light power remote stuff. I'm wondering how many of the 20,000 are in use and not sitting on shelves because they were purchased as "I want the new cool".
    • For me, the Pi Zero has double the RAM, a higher speed CPU, is lower profile and almost half the size and cheaper than the A+. I don't need networking and one USB port is enough.

  • Yeah, it's just false advertising saying you can get it for $5. You can get them, they are available, but for more like $20 - $30. Example: ebay: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:14AM (#51462815)

    A victim of its own success, yes, but the real victims are the Raspberry Pi's competitors.

    One might argue that if RPi are unable to deliver what's actually wanted, people will go to their competitors instead.

    So what the hell does this last sentence mean? RPi's competitors are "victims" because RPi has done well? Sorry, that's not how competition works. This isn't even a zero-sum game. RPi has created markets that its competitors failed to create, but are now selling into anyway. RPi's competitors have by-and-large received a massive boost from the existence of RPi. 12-year-olds are now playing with SBCs who would never have even heard of them if not for RPi, and they're not only playing with RPi SBCs.

    • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:25AM (#51462917)

      The victims are the competitors that get damaged by the perception that $5 is a price that people should be paying. This is extremely hard for nearly all vendors to manage.
      This means less diversity in the market, especially if people buy a couple of Pis now, in the anticipation of a Zero being available real soon now.

      • Or to be clearer - the people that can't purchase competitors devices which are more available and better documented and more open.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I've got two zeroes so I debate the truthiness of the article anyway. Notwithstanding that, there's a vapourware $8 SBC which literally cannot be bought at $8, which has reduced the perceived pricepoint already below $10. So far from being hurting the competitors of RPi, actually it's the competitors of RPi that are doing this. OTOH RPi actually have delivered 20,000 SBCs at $5.

        I mean you make a slightly valid point, but you could have said this about the $30 RPi, whereas in fact it's created a whole ind

      • So people's decision to trade time for price is somehow bad for them? Sounds to me like you favor economic rent--a process which leads to increased poverty, decreased employment, and lower economic stability.

        • No, not at all. Trading time for price is just fine.
          There would be no issue if the Pi zero was an open platform. It represents a local minima - much like if you can only purchase McDonalds because all the other vendors have died.

          • All the other vendors died because McDonalds has a high supply to meet demand. You assert Raspberry Pi has a low supply, and the demand is not available for higher-priced alternatives. Sounds like a natural market to me: people decide they need X, they can get X for a price, and they don't value X *now* more than X *later* so they wait for supply to flow in at the lowest price.

            Do you want $5 today or $10 in 6 weeks?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The Zero isn't really comparable to the original Pis though. No networking, extremely minimal design. It's designed for embedding inside other things, not for use as a stand-alone computer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My local Radio Shack store has Adafruit's Raspberry Pi Zero Starter kit in stock. It comes with the following:

    Raspberry Pi Zero
    8GB class 10 SD card
    Wifi Dongle
    Mini HDMI to HDMI adapter
    USB OTG cable
    USB console cable
    Micro USB cable
    Power supply
    Male and Female headers
    T-Cobbler Plus (breakout board and ribbon cable) []

    • Yep, and the kit probably costs $60. So much for the promise of the $5 computer.

      Thankfully, the Raspberry Pi people are starting to get competition from other organizations like CHIP and PINE who are also releasing sub $20 barebones PC's. That should help to improve availability and keep prices low.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        CHIP is great by the way; I thought "I'll never use the bluetooth but it's nice I guess" and the first thing I did with it was use the bluetooth.

        Apart from the hiccup at launch with the inconsistent booting (now fixed by a fairly painless flashing tool they released), it's done everything I wanted and more.

        Having wifi on one of these little project boards makes using it so much easier and more convenient!

      • I picked up my RPi Zero for $5.00 at retail....
  • by burni2 ( 1643061 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:27AM (#51462935)

    It's funny that many people now are trying so hard to get one - and lucky for those that have one and can sell that little thingy for 6 times the initial price on ebay.

    And for those who haven't heard that's called capitalism -
    supply low, demand high = prices high and the ebay sellers get theirs sold!

    The first reviews and comments on the PiZero were like: "unusable" "only one USB-Port". And then the complaints about the missing ethernet or wlan.

    And some even judged that the Zero would not sell at all, because of its short commings despite the price.

    After the "tinkerers" started to get interested and played around with this "fail" and then the demand took off straight.

    And no, the Raspberry PI Zero demand doesn't hurt other competitors, because I don't see similar priced clones of that size.

    If you need you can get an A+ that will work for your project, you then also only have one usable USB-Port,
    to make it smaller you need to desolder the GPIO-pins.

    • That whole supply-and-demand economics thing is a gross oversimplification.

      • but for this case it works, as for many other cases:

        In this case it means: "Those who demand it are willing to pay a high price - and they pay."

        • Just because someone offers more money, doesnt automatically make it the right choice to sell to them. Not all humans view transactions as amorally as you do. Lots of people see this as a destructive, psychopathic maxim.
          • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

            You are missjudging, I don't judge morally or amorally in anyway.

            I just recount the reality and accept this as a fact of normal human behaviour within the given rule of law and as I will argue that it is a common morally acceptable behaviour.

            That behaviour most people show a divergence in the moral outside behaviour and their inner moral "clockwork".

            Most of the time I see that many people that take a moral stance on ever cheaper things buy-in-your-own-country.

            But they go for the cheapest, and shit on their

        • This is more like fad economics (Furby) than anything else. They're buying time, not product: they want this particular thing, and they want it now, thus they're paying to have it now. This is slightly different from things like superbowl tickets (you won't get Superbowl 50 tickets next year; the supply is time- and space-limited) or Roman coins (you can get them any time, but there are only so many in existence).

          I have a theory of scarcity which covers that human labor time produces all things, but t

          • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

            Use common sense and watch how people behave on the small scale, don't theorize or repeat theories how people should behave.

            And in this case we are dealing with the behaviour of people for a "for-fun-good"(a toy) and on this level certain oversimplified rules remain true.

            Small scale peoples behaviour is very simple, this use case deals on this small scale.

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:30AM (#51462963) Homepage Journal

    I don't know... Getting shot down by the Arduino P-51 Mustangs?

  • All the commenters above seem to think it's useless. The market is clearly saying that there are more people who have a use for it than there are Pi Zeros available. Raspberry may be guilty of poor market planning and the zero may not be useful to some people, but it darned sure seems to have surplus demand.

    Me? I'm looking at the hacks that allow me to solder an old wifi dongle to it, or the one that lets me run it on Power-Over-Ethernet (yes, different applications, although wouldn't it be cool?!).

  • Hindsight is grand (Score:5, Informative)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:38AM (#51463031)

    Well yes, you really would think that they might be used to it by now and perhaps even prepared for it.

    Thanks for your opinion Mike. I wonder if you were in position where you sold 200000 of something, and then proceeded to develop a hugely cut down baby version of it, completely missing some of the most used features (USB ports) of the previous products, what do you think the initial run should be? Oh enlighten us?

    Quite frankly I'm surprised they sold out, it's quite telling that one of the most popular projects on Hackaday is to add a USB hub back in to make it more useful.

  • Apparently in this case, the name represents the actual size of the production run...

    Seriously, I recall it was like pulling teeth when the Raspberry Pi model B+ came out to get one. The supply problem will work it's way out, remain calm.

  • By the time they get their act together tons of Kickstarters with show up with a similar price point and more functionality.
    • I don't think that matters. There are also loads of other products to the main RPi with a lower price, better specs or both. Thing is, though the RPi his stability and a better, much larger community. So you pay a bit more but you save a lot of time. Unless you need something out of the ordinary or are VERY cost sensitive, then it's usually easier to buy an RPi and have done with it.

      See, for example the problems people are having with the cheaper and more powerful OrangePI.

    • And NO COMMUNITY. Thats what drives the RPi more than anything else, it has the biggest, most well-documented community,
  • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @12:57PM (#51463699)

    BeagleBone Black was similarly sold out for several months, it is the nature of the beast.

  • Google claims it to be UK English, but I still believe you just made it up.
  • I purchased three copies of the MagPi magazine with a free Pi Zero on them. Figured I'd maybe play with one of them, then see if I could make a small profit from them on eBay later... Offers please... ;-)
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @03:42PM (#51464919)
    The theoretical price of the zero is $5, or about $7 Canadian. I am willing to bet that the walk in price for a zero will be $29 and the total delivered price will be about $40. Then we have the fees that some of the major shippers will ladle onto anything where they smell internet-order. These fees typically start at $40.

    So I am not exaggerating that a zero will potentially cost $80.00 (60usd) in Canada. That is a lot of zeros.
  • I think it's worth mentioning that the Pi Zero likely has the ability to broadcast data, though not in the way you might expect. (I can't say for certain because I don't have one yet) There are a few examples on the web about how to do this: [] I tried this recently on the Model2, and it worked well. Obviously you would need something on the receiving end to listen + decode, but I don't think it would be too difficult. People have been doing this with HAM radio for ages. If
  • Last week after a long wait I finally got my Linkit Smart 7688 boards: []

    No, not $5.00, but at $13 from Seeed Studio it's not too bad. The killer was that they shipped from Hong Kong and that got pretty expensive. And it has built-in WiFi. A little strange in that it runs OpenWRT instead of Debian or some standard Linux distro, but it looks like it will be fun to experiment on.

    Something tells me we're going to see a lot of these cheap little computers in the coming months, espe

  • What if they had ordered 200k of the things, and they found a defect that escaped test? Starting off with a smaller run is not a horrible choice. It sucks that the devices are late, but it's hardly an outrage,.

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie