The last time I can remember seeing a programmer with a soldering iron was a long time ago in the hay days of micro computing in the late 70’s. A picture of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in a garage having built the Apple 1 micro-computer. The component parts totalled a few hundred pounds, and the machine sold for $666.66. At this level the cost made this a niche phenomenon, however a handful of very successful entrepreneurs emerged out of this era.
So moving fast forward to 2012, Raspberry PI foundation have launched a $25 computer running Linux, has sockets for Ethernet, HDMI, USB, RCA Video and SD Cards. At this price and capability this is unlikely to be a niche phenomenon, indeed February this year more people were searching for Raspberry PI than they were the world’s most famous pop artist, Lady Gaga! On launch the interest in Raspberry Pi flooded their website and had to be taken down, and the first batch these was sold out in 1 hour.
So is this just about a cheap computer to surf the internet on your TV and to do your basic home computing tasks like word processing on? Well by the time you add a keyboard, mouse and decent memory card the cost will be very close to a low android tablet, so this isn’t the reason to buy one.
The target market for Raspberry Pi Foundation is the education sector where it is hoped these devices will encourage children (11 years+) to learn programming which in turn should produce more developers from university. At this cost it is hoped that schools/parents can afford to provide a platform upon which kids will want to learn to program.
However the bulk of the demand I would say will come from techies that want to build low-cost solutions that require compute power and software applications. Home automation projects are likely to be popular: creating a solution that allows you to switch lights and other things on/off remotely via the internet. Solutions that require integration with other hardware such as a GPS or camera will also be popular.
Already projects looking to create their own weather balloons, remote controlled robots, music studios and many more have started ahead of people actually having the kit in their hands. So you can see more ideas here.
It is early days but to me it’s obvious the options and therefore opportunities for innovation are going to be huge, some will be very practical, some will be fun (for example the guy that created a device that allows him to feed his dog via the internet, some will be useless but in all there will be lots of new ideas using these devices in the coming years.
The next Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates is amongst our children already so the time is right to get in the queue for your piece of Raspberry Pi.