In common with many thousands of geeks up and down the country, I set my alarm for just before 06:00 today for the big Raspberry Pi “announcement”.
The team at Raspberry Pi had done a great job of keeping the community informed – and I was really impressed that they gave everyone a chance to hear where to buy their miniature computers at the same time. Unfortunately the Raspberry Pi announcement didn’t quite have the intended result as it effectively “slashdotted” the websites for both of the distributors (RS Components and Farnell).
Whilst Raspberry Pi had moved their site to a static page in anticipation, the electronics retailers probably aren’t used to their products being in such demand and both buckled under the load. Which left me wondering… I know Raspberry Pi’s goal is to support the UK electronics industry (hence the choice of distributors and not simply selling via Amazon.co.uk or similar) but surely this is a case study for how a cloud-based solution could have scaled to cope with demand? Perhaps by redirecting Raspberry Pi purchasers to a site that could scale (e.g. on Amazon Web Services), still fulfilled by RS and Farnell?
It didn’t help that the links given were to the main pages (not deep links). I got in during the first 5 minutes at RS and followed the instructions (“Search for Raspberry Pi, and then follow the normal shopping and checkout process.”) only to find that there was a “register your interest” page but no purchase option. A few minutes later, Raspberry Pi said on Twitter that was the wrong page, and I couldn’t find the right one from a site search. Later in the morning, reports on Twitter suggested that RS are not putting Raspberry Pi on sale until the end of the week…
[It now seems that doesn't fit with RS Components' Raspberry Pi press release]
With the mainstream news sites and even breakfast TV now running Raspberry Pi stories, the interest will be phenomenal and I’m sure Raspberry Pi can sell many more devices than they can manufacture, but I can’t help feeling they’ve been badly let down by distributors who didn’t take their warnings seriously.
Or, as one open source advocate saw it:
With any luck, my success at registering interest from RS at about 06:03 this morning will have worked. Failing that, I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer…
[Update 07:49 - added link to RS Components press release]