$35 Computer sells out in hours

Raspberry Pi helps to foster creativity and innovation in computer hardware

You may think that generation next knows way more about computers than you do, but they don’t. If you belonged to generation X, you may well remember a time before the Internet, mobile phones and XBox. Having progressed from the days of the floppy drive, you had to fix your own computers, format your own hard drives and you’ve been through everything from floppy discs to dial up connections. Younger users of today are accustomed to having an IT professional who will fix their computers when the need arises. Sure, they can access programs, games and all the latest social media platforms, but they have very little understanding of how computers work, or
how to write the programs that they so enjoy using.

When a group of computer programmers at the University of Cambridge noticed that fewer students were signing up for computer science courses, and that those who were signing up had done little
more than design their own websites, they decided to encourage the old-school initiative and creativity that had inspired them to choose computer programming as a career. Enter the Raspberry Pi, the diminutive computer that costs only $35. It has no monitor, mouse or keyboard, it doesn’t even come in a box, but it’s packed with goodies meant to inspire young users to fill in the blanks.

The Raspberry Pi is a powerful computer the size of a credit card that consists of a circuit board with an Ethernet connection to the Internet, a SD memory card port and two USB ports. Powered by
a USB mobile charger the computer utilizes Linux, a free open-source operating system. The Raspberry Pi can plug into any TV and can power 3D graphics or Blu-ray video playback.

“The primary goal was to build a low cost computer that every child could own and one where programming was the natural thing to do with it,” said Robert Mullins, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The Foundation wanted to give any child who wanted to start programming an affordable means to do so. Mullins hopes that the Raspberry Pi will significantly increase the annual intake of programming students in the UK.

The Raspberry Pi went on sale on February 29th and went flying off the shelves, selling out within a couple of hours of its launch and crashing its distributor’s websites in the process. An even cheaper version of the Raspberry Pi costing only $25 is scheduled for releases in a couple of months.

Is the Desktop Dead?

Sounding the desktop death knell as mobile devices edge them out of the market

In the past, a cost chasm separated the laptops from the desktop. Mobility, it seemed, came at a price. Businesses opted to buy the more pricy laptops for those who needed it most, furnishing the rest with the more reasonably priced desktops. The dropping prices of laptops reduced the gap in price to a mere $50. A mere $50 it seems, that most companies are finding it easier to justify.

It’s not just the competitive pricing that’s contributing to the untimely demise of the desktop; a growing trend to bring your own device to work (BYOD) has seen companies save on hardware costs as employees prefer to utilize their own devices instead of the trusty old desktop. Cloud technology provides centralized functionality that helps to promote the use of personal devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

This year’s sales figures reflect the changing landscape with laptops taking 68% of the market, up from previous years which saw a more even 50/50 split. There are several inherent advantages to owning a laptop:

  • Mobility: the smaller, thinner and lighter the laptop gets, the more portable they become
  • They take up less desk space
  • Increased productivity as employees are able to take them home to work
  • Negates the need to work late at the office which increases employee satisfaction
  • Telecommuting is possible as the employee does not need a computer at home and at the office

The laptop is not the only device that is giving the desktop a run for its money. Tablet sales increased by 150% over the last quarter, making it one of the fastest growing hardware markets in the business. Microsoft will be developing Office applications for the iPad which will bolster support for this emerging technology. Cloud technology negates the need for large software purchases or large volumes of information to be stored in giant desktop hard drives.

It’s not only the emerging technologies that threaten the denizens of the desk; it’s also their old nemesis, the Apple Mac. Apple Mac sales have increased by 20.7% while desktop sales dropped by 5.9% overall. This means that Apple managed to take a large bite out of the PC pie. Those who love their desktops need not fear. The good old desktop isn’t dead just yet. It still has its advantages over the new devices which include:

  • Large screens which are important for those who spend lots of time on the computer and like to see all the little details
  • Ergonomics; good office chairs and desktops are far more comfortable than hunching over a laptop
  • Storage on a desktop can’t be beat
  • Typing on a real keyboard is much easier than a laptop’s often cramped keyboard can afford

It seems the days of the desktop dominance are numbered, so enjoy them while you can.