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Raspberry Pi PCs are being built

PC on a USB stick is being made abroad
Wed Jan 11 2012, 11:48

FIFTEEN QUID Raspberry Pi computers are being manufactured and will soon be on sale.

Sadly, perhaps, the home grown PC on a USB stick is being made overseas due to a desire to keep costs down.

"Raspberry Pis started being made a couple of days ago, but I was forbidden to tell you about it until signed contracts and receipts for payment had arrived - it's been killing me, especially since I've had tens of you asking me when manufacturing would start every day for the last few weeks. I am not good at keeping secrets," said an excited blog post from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

This means that the first units will appear around the end of January. Model B units will be released first, according to the firm, and Model A units will follow on later. Ten thousand units are being made and Raspberry wants to build up its stock before releasing them for sale.

Although the Raspberry Pi Foundation would have liked to make the units in the UK this has not been possible, and it said that pricing and the time it would take to deliver units were issues.

"The Raspberry Pi Foundation had intended to get all its manufacture done in the UK; after all, we're a UK charity, we want to help bootstrap the UK electronics industry, and doing our manufacturing in the UK seemed another way to help reach our goals," it said.

"We investigated a number of possible UK manufacturers, but encountered a few problems, some of which made matters impossible."

Problems with scheduling manufacture in the UK would have delayed the release of the hardware for months, according to the post, while local build prices wiped out the chance of any profits.

"Some factories were able to offer us prices which were marginally profitable, but they were only able to produce at most a few hundred units a month; and even then, we were doing better by more than five dollars per unit if we moved that manufacture to the Far East," it explained.

"When you're talking about tens of thousands of units per batch, losing that sum of money for the charity - a sum that we can spend on more manufacture, more outreach work and more research and development - just to be able to say we'd kept all the work in one country, starts to look irresponsible."

The British tax system is also an issue, and the Foundation said that it is cheaper to make items abroad than to import their components from overseas and assemble them in the UK.

"This means that it's really, really tax inefficient for an electronics company to do its manufacturing in Britain, and it's one of the reasons that so much of our manufacturing goes overseas," it added.

The Raspberry Pi computers will be made in Taiwan and China. µ


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