Raspberry Pi Sells One Million Units – Maybe

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500,000 sales from one of the distributors allow for optimistic estimates

Electronic component specialist Premier Farnell (also known as element14), the official distributor of Raspberry Pi miniature computer, has announced it has made and sold 500,000 Linux-powered machines since launch in February 2012.

Because there are only two official distributors, Raspberry Pi Foundation estimates that the overall number of Pi’s sold is somewhere around one million – an amazing achievement for a computer made by a non-profit organisation.

A million code enthusiasts

Raspberry Pi is a basic computer that can be connected to a TV or a monitor via HDMI. It can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, including office work, Internet browsing and high-definition video playback – all possible through a circuit board the size of a credit card, which costs around £25.

Raspberry Pi - MinecraftThe device was designed primarily to get children interested in programming, and inspire a new generation of British innovators.

According to Premier Farnell, if you were to stand all the Raspberry Pi’s they sold end to end, they would reach 25.6 miles, “higher than the 24 miles Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner skydived last year”.

Back in September, the company secured a partnership with Sony’s UK Technology Centre that saw the production of the miniature ARM-based computer brought from China to Wales. Now, Premier Farnell has signed a new global distribution deal with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, hoping to build on the success of the enthusiast community.

“It seems every time we talk about the Raspberry Pi we say it has been a true phenomenon, but it genuinely has. Back in February last year we could never have thought it would be this successful. Now less than a year on and we have manufactured over 500,000 at element14 alone, and we are delighted to have signed a new global contract with the Raspberry Pi Foundation,” said Mike Buffham, global head of EDE at Premier Farnell.

“The younger generation has demonstrated significant intrigue in learning how to build and program their own computer device. I have seen projects from Twittering chickens to home beer brewing kits being created using the Raspberry Pi and its accessories,” commented Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The organisation needs to confirm sales numbers from the second official distributor, RS Components, in order to make its milestone official. Not that it stops the Raspberry Pi team from celebrating. “We don’t have completely up-to-date figures from RS Components yet, but Farnell’s news suggests that we’re well on the way to having sold our millionth Raspberry Pi,” wrote Liz Upton, the marketing manager.

“I’ve not got much more to say – but I will note that we’ll be opening a bottle of something fizzy tonight!” she added.

Another important development took place last month, when Raspberry Pi Foundation opened a dedicated App Store for the Linux-powered device. The same month, engineers from PA Consulting Group had managed to run a GSM base station off one Raspberry Pi board.

The infographic below compares 500,000 Raspberry Pi’s to some other things:

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