Last December, Eben Upon provided an update about Raspberry Pi availability and expected “unlimited supplied” by H2 2023. Nine months later, Raspberry Pi supplies have indeed improved a lot. Still, some makers with small-volume production have already moved on, and are using alternative solutions. This seems especially true for products based on Raspberry Pi CM4 modules.
Eben said June was the second-best month ever for Raspberry Pi Trading with 788,000 units sold, and July looks to breach if the one million units a month is reached, beating the March 2021 records of 814k units. He further expanded saying 119k Zero boards, of which 33k Zero 2 boards (almost entirely consumer), and estimated around 250-400ku went to the retail market. So everything looks to be good again, but the devil may be in the details.
RPIlocator creator André Costa said the following when interviewed by Tom’s Hardware:
Pi 4 looks good almost anywhere in the world. Zero 2 W not so much and CM4 is still scarce. US market is struggling to stabilize and still selling out, although not as fast as before. It was common for Pi 4 s to sell out in 10 min in the US during the height of the shortage. Now they are staying in stock 3-4 hours. Stocks in other parts of the world have been lasting days and some countries are not even selling out of Pi 4s anymore
Looking at the availability of Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 at the time of writing indeed reveals none of the shops have CM4 modules in stock.
The important part is that individuals should now have an easier time purchasing Raspberry Pi hardware, and Eben Upton always claimed they prioritized businesses, so the supply situation was not as bad for them, as long as by business we mean 10K monthly sales or another largish purchased amount. It’s been hard for smaller companies that only produce a few hundred units a month or even a year since it’s hard to distinguish them from hoarders that resell Raspberry Pi boards or modules with a huge markup.
So in the last few years, each time I shared a story from CNX Software for a product based on Raspberry Pi CM4, I always had comments like “good luck getting a CM4 module” on LinkedIn, and sometimes I replied to some that they could buy if they were a business. But if I remember correctly, one person used CM4 for business but only needed a few for a gateways in greenhouses and they could not get any.
More recently, I was tipped about FunctionLand which made their own RK1 system-on-module based on Rockchip RK3588 after having launched an Indiegogo campaign offering a Raspberry Pi CM4 version of their Web3 cloud-storage solution. But not more, as explained in the short video snippet below from June 2023.
When Keyvan Sadeghi, Functionland CEO, says “we are all on the same boat, so no Raspberry Pi” he refers to Kubesail and Turing Pi projects that were all based on Raspberry Pi CM4 but had to move to a Rockchip RK3588 module instead because of supply issues, which culminated with the launch of pre-orders for the Turing Pi RK1 just a few days ago.
Those companies probably invested a lot of money to launch their project in 2021, never managed to get hold of Raspberry Pi modules for their products, and seem upset especially since “the Raspberry Pi Foundation makes some 400,000 Raspberry Pis every month” and none of those could reach them. So I would not expect them to design products based on Raspberry Pi hardware anytime soon, especially if Rockchip RK3588 alternatives can deliver on their promises.
I’ve also heard companies doing modules such as the Pine64 SoQuartz, Radxa CM3, or even Banana Pi BPI-CM4 got more requests than usual in the last few years. So it’s quite possible many small companies left the Raspberry Pi ecosystem looking for alternatives, and it may be hard for Raspberry Pi Trading to regain their trust considering they probably lost a chunk of money or some may have had to close.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.