Raspberry Pi supply chain loosens just in time for the holiday season

100,000 units being sent to resellers as thanks for consumer patience, says CEO Eben Upton

Raspberry Pi enthusiasts, rejoice: around 100,000 RPi Zero W, 3A+, and 2GB/4GB RPi 4s are being distributed to resellers for holiday season consumer sales.

Commercial and industrial customers, on the other hand, are being warned that substantial backlogs remain, and likely will through 2023.

"Happy Christmas," Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton said in a blog post announcing the trove of Pi devices, which are being released "as a thank-you to our army of very patient enthusiast customers in the run-up to the holiday season."

The mini-computer maker's advice from earlier in the year still applies: only buy from authorized resellers to prevent shortages, and use rpilocator to get a near real-time look at where devices are in stock. 

It's also worth considering whether an RPi Pico or Pico W would be a good fit for your project, Upton said, because stock is plentiful. 

The Pi-demic is abating

Upton said he's confident supplies will recover to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of 2023, and by the second half of the year will be "unlimited." 

Still, the RPi company "will continue to actively manage our commercial and industrial customers through 2023," Upton said. He told us that will entail speaking to OEMs and determining the minimum demand they need to stay in production.

Companies would "receive the units they need," Upton said, while noting steps were being taken to prevent "inventory building behavior which would otherwise prolong the shortage."

Part of the reason for the continued commercial shortage is likely stemming from a drive to increase single-unit sales, which Upton said would be a priority in 2023. "The goal is to keep going through these last few months of shortage, and to turn up the supply to individual customers as soon as possible," Upton told The Register in an email.

By the end of the third quarter 2023, Upton said the company's entire supply channel (commercial and consumer alike) will have recovered to its equilibrium stock level, beginning with Zero and Zero W, followed by RPi 3A+ and finally RPi 4. 

Upton told us that means backlogs from RPi to resellers will be caught up, and neither commercial volume orders or individual purchases will be limited.

Unfortunately, the pandemic and its supply chain disruptions will leave a mark on the Raspberry Pi world in the form of slightly higher prices, Upton said. 

"We've generally absorbed these cost increases ourselves, holding the prices of our products constant," Upton said, but the company simply can't do so on Pi Zero units anymore.

Everything that goes into an RPi, regardless of size, has increased, Upton said, and at new manufacturing price points the Pi Zero is "no longer commercially viable," causing the company to double the cost of the original Pi Zero, from $5 to $10 (£4.07 to £8.15), and the Pi Zero W will get an additional 50 percent tacked onto its price, bringing it from $10 to $15 (£12.22).

However, once Zeros reach volume availability next year, purchase restrictions will be lifted, Upton said. ®

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