Raspberry Pi production rate rising to a million a month
CEO stands by decision to keep prices steady instead of scoring sweet, sweet, windfall profits
Raspberry Pi boss Eben Upton says the micro manufacturer's ovens will crank out a million units in July, after years of supply issues restraining sales.
In a newsletter article spotted by Tom's Hardware, Upton said the fruiterer shipped 800,000 units in Q1 of 2023 – its worst result since 2015 and a number that buyers usually acquire in a single month.
Upton wrote that he is now seeing a "rapid recovery in silicon supply" – a recovery he attributed to "Sony's willingness to stockpile the non-silicon elements" required to build out single board computers (SBCs) which are Raspberry Pi's mainstay.
The biz shifted around 600,000 units this May, expects to produce 800,000 in June and will hit the million units mark in July. Upton said production levels will remain there "for as long as necessary" to clear remaining back orders and return to easy availability.
Upton also expressed confidence that Pi shortages are in the past, and 2023 will be the "strongest ever year" for the SBCs and modules.
The CEO has been predicting that supply chains would improve in Q2 since at least December last year.
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While Pis are again being produced in high numbers, increased component costs – as expected during a supply chain crisis – have led to price rises for the models including the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4, the Compute Module 4, and the Raspberry Pi Zero.
In a recent interview with YouTuber Jeff Geerling, Upton seemed content with the supply situation. He also revealed that the business decided not to float the price of its products and "let capitalism take care of it" as component prices moved in recent years – despite the amount of money that could have been made.
"I think that would've been a horrible betrayal of trust," said the CEO, though it would have left Raspberry Pi able to "swim in the profits."
"Oh my god, the amount of money that we could have made and if we'd floated the price of the products."
That's a reference to the COVID-caused crimps on supply chain inputs ranging from chips to ships. Many tech vendors did hike prices as the cost of their inputs grew. The boot's on the other foot now, as supply chains are moving fast once more but demand has dived, leading companies like HP to discount aggressively and PC-makers like Lenovo experience 75 percent profit declines.
Upton told Geerling that Raspberry Pi users tend to horde their machines, keeping several in the back cabinet for a rainy day.
"People can survive a transient shortage, just as a company might … by having some buffer of supplies and inbound componentry. So a hobbyist can survive for a period of time by using the Raspberry Pis they already have," opined Upton. ®