Having to choose pandemic pressure to either thwart hobbyists and educators or allow small businesses built on his company’s platform was “the single hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my career,” Raspberry Pi co-founder and CEO Eben Upton says in a new video interview.
Jeff Girling, having flown to the Raspberry Pi headquarters in Cambridge, England, with the support of his supporters, looks at Upton’s “supply chain modernization” from December 2022. Upton then said that by the third quarter of 2023, “hundreds of thousands” of Major Pi modules will be available, with zero modules, then Models 3 and 3b, and then 4.
Upton told Girling that “we got to where we said we’d be in December,” with a “lousy first quarter” of 750,000 to 800,000 units produced due to the production shift for the Christmas period. But real progress is now being made to fill backlogs and availability. Upton expects to transfer 2 million baht in the second quarter, and then “decouple” in the third and fourth quarters of 2023.
The Pi 3A+ has been in stock continuously for several months, Upton told Girling — and we’ll give the definition of “continuously” as kind of stagnant. Upton said the Zero and Zero 2 models should start to make a comeback, and buyers should start seeing a “significant pickup” for the Models 3, 3B+ and 4 towards the end of this second quarter.
It’s a notable shift from seven months ago, when Upton, in a different interview with Girling, said that Pis were under the same supply constraints as other hardware makers and that most units had to be sold to companies that had standing orders for them.
Looking back at the past three years, Upton said, had he had the foresight to see things no one else saw coming, he might have stockpiled the BCM2835 chips on which many Pi models are based. Being a little behind on requests has a ripple effect, Upton said. Once there is a perception of a shortage, buyers can engage in hoarding behaviors, and the cycle of shortages continues.
That’s what prompted Upton and Pi leaders to prioritize their business customers during the height of the pandemic, which are generally, he said, “small shops” of 5 to 10 employees, that make devices with Pi at their center. “I think a lot of people realize we did the right thing or would like to give us the benefit of the doubt,” Upton told Girling. “We’ve made a judgment decision. I’m looking forward to not having to make a judgment anymore.”
Geerling’s full interview with Upton has a lot to offer, including talking about the Pi’s future plans, discussing RISC-V and ARM, the Sony investment, and Geerling pushing Upton to respond to the idea that the Pi has enough PCI Express bus capacity to support it. He. She. RTX 3070.