Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Feb 2012 09:47 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems This morning, I experienced the nerd equivalent of a Black Friday $50 iPad sale. At 07:00 CET, the first batch of the much-anticipated Raspberry Pi went on sale, and while Raspberry Pi itself was very properly prepared, the two large international retailers actually selling the device weren't - despite warnings from Raspberry Pi about the enormous amount of traffic that would come their way, the two sites crumbled to dust within seconds. There's good news too - the cheaper model A has seen its RAM doubled at no additional cost.
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Raspberry Pi not to blame?
by sgray on Sun 4th Mar 2012 22:09 UTC
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I am a regular on OSNews and read the columns almost daily. As an integrator/consultant, the information is usually very relevant to my work. While I agree that the Raspberry Pi launch played out much like a Black Friday sale, your post from February 29th is so grossly misstated that I feel I must set the record straight. I would note, that I have been a strong supporter of the Raspberry Pi organization and the two embedded boards they are working to release. I have been a patient customer, waiting until I could get my hands on one and test it, before fully recommending it to my clients. Having said that, I have made many positive comments about the organization to my clients, and it's apparent lack of experience in distribution has left me embarrassed for doing so.

First, you state in the article that "while Raspberry Pi itself was very properly prepared, the two large international retailers actually selling the device weren't".

1. Unless you can prove otherwise, I will assume that you do not have in your possession, copies of any contracts or other communications that may or may not exist between Raspberry Pi and it's vendors and partners.

2. The two electronic component distributors, not retailers as you suggest, were clearly under no contractual obligation to begin selling Pis to anyone on that date. This is evidenced by the fact that one was voluntarily taking preorders and the other was accepting "notes of interest" while waiting for the first batch of boards to arrive.

3. Both distributors were not exactly "international." At least one of them sold to the United States through a sister company, which had no immediate plans to sell to the U.S., despite Raspberry Pi's posting that everyone is free to order from any one of the two distributors.

In the article, you state, "...I dutifully set my alarm clock to 06:45." You also state "...the Raspberry Pi site never went down."

1. by your own admissions, you were not awake and tracking's reachability in the hours prior to the launch. On the other hand, myself and several engineers I know witnessed the site go down well in advance of the launch. It wasn't until about the time that you got online, that the site was reachable again and a static page was set.

In the article, you state, "Over Twitter, Liz from Raspberry Pi did state they had warned the retailers - but apparently the message didn't get through or wasn't taken seriously."

1. First, you are not ever going to "warn" a distributor, or retailer for that matter, of any expected response to such a launch. There is this thing in business we call a contract. It sets out all of the terms and conditions of sales, dates, expected buying patterns, anything related to the distribution of the goods. It also limits liabilty and sets out the responsibilities of each party.
You will note that:
a) Raspberry Pi posted on their site that BOTH distributors were allegedly selling, as of the date/time of their post. They obviously had not verified this before posting.
b) Raspberry Pi had constructive knowledge of each distributors active sales territory, yet did not disclose this information to viewers, causing immediate, and arguably unnecessary, confusion.
c) Raspberry Pi had constructive knowledge that distributor RS sells to the United States through a sister company called Allied Electronics, yet never confirmed that anyone from the U.S. would be able to purchase. On Twitter, Liz stated that she felt that maybe RS was focusing on the U.K. market first.

2. Could this "warning" to the distributors have been about as clear as the warning that the entire Raspberry Pi site, including forum, were going to be unavailable for a period of days?

In the article, you state, "This was clearly out of Raspberry Pi's hands, and being disrespectful towards them was and is totally and utterly uncalled for."

1. As previously stated, there would have to be a contract for distribution. Also, as previously stated, Raspberry Pi made it clear (via their static page) that customers could immediately go to the two named distributor sites and purchase. But Raspberry Pi had not confirmed this before posting. Despite the repeated concerns being voiced on Raspberry Pi's twitter page, Raspberry Pi chose not to modify their static page, so as to advise customers of any issues with purchase. Instead, Raspberry Pi replied to select postings on Twitter, telling customers things like "you're on the wrong page" when asked why distributor RS was asking customers to register "notes of interest." Thus generating even more frustration for customers.

Clearly, Raspberry Pi did not have a clue what was going on. Regardless, they chose to continue posting verifiably false information on their static page. Unless I am mistaken, the forum was taken down with the rest of the site, with no advance notice to members, creating more confusion and redirecting a lot of traffic to the Twitter page. If you have information that shows advance notice of the forum being taken down, I would appreciate you providing that. Raspberry Pi's unprofessional handling of the launch, and lack of appropriate response to legitimate concerns likely contributed to the "heat level" that was flowing in on their Twitter page.

Given the facts laid out above, your argument that Raspberry Pi is not to blame in this matter, fails. Before I would ever associate my name with an article that placed blame on any person or entity, I would certainly verify who knew what and when they knew it. If Raspberry Pi wants to avoid blame in this matter, then they should produce their contract with the distributors, showing where everything was allegedly spelled out, and agreed to, in writing before the launch.

Let's be entirely honest here. We love Raspberry Pi and the work they are doing to contribute to the common good. But we can't let our feelings about the organization blind us of the reality of who is ultimately the responsible party. Seriously, how many more large distributors are you going to blame before you admit that Raspberry Pi lacked experience in distribution? I would have felt much better had Raspberry Pi issued a statement, apologizing for the mix-up, accepting responsibility for the situation, and admitting that the whole ordeal was a learning experience for them and that they were simply experiencing growing pains. Thus the reason they quickly outsourced the distribution. You will recall that, prior to the launch, several pages on the site stated that you would be able to buy the Pi "right here."[i][/i]

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