The Raspberry Pi microcomputer, which costs as little as $25/$35 and has helped fledge many a DIY hardware project, has racked up worldwide sales of 1.75 million, its U.K.-based creator, The Raspberry Pi Foundation, said today. The first Pis went on sale in March 2012, with its U.K. makers imagining they might sell a thousand in the first year (in the event they sold circa one million — and are now well on their way to two million).
Another U.K.-specific milestone for the device is that one million Pis have been produced since the Foundation shifted the bulk of production to a factory based in the U.K. (Sony’s Pencoed, Wales facility). So that’s one million U.K.-made Pis.
Initially, as with scores of inexpensive electronic devices before it, Pi was made in China. But the Foundation, itself a U.K. startup, was keen to support a production facility closer to home — to make it easier to visit and oversee elements of Pi production, but also to support local manufacturing. And so Sony was brought on board and the Pencoed factory turned out its millionth Pi today.
The rest of the 1.75 million Pis produced to-date were built in China. The Foundation’s primary Pi distributor, Premier Farnell/element 14, shifted all its production to Wales back in March but a small portion of non-U.K. Pi production remains.
As well as keeping the maker community busy by powering DIY hardware projects like this solar-powered FTP server, the Pi has been helping schoolkids cut their teeth on coding projects. At the start of this year, Google put up $1 million to fund 15,000 Pis for U.K. schoolkids, for example. Further afield, Pi has been used as a low-cost component to kit out school computing labs in Africa.
Back in April, the Pi Foundation revealed details of the countries where the — at the time — 1.2 million Pis had been shipped to. The vast majority (98%) were being sold in Western nations such as the U.K. and the U.S. Helping Pi spread further around the world to reach more developing nations is one of the Foundation’s challenges this year, Pi founder Eben Upton said then.
Discussing what it’s been doing to improve Pi distribution globally since then, Upton said Pi distributor RS Components now stocks units locally in South Africa — and can then ship directly to a number of countries in Southern Africa. “This has important implications for delivered cost, and also for reliability of delivery — it can be challenging to ship stuff into Africa reliably from Europe,” he told TechCrunch.
“We’re continuing to work to understand how to get units into South American markets without incurring very import high tariffs. Nothing to announce yet, but it’s high on our radar,” he added.
Upton also revealed that Pi shipments are growing in Asian markets. “Looking at the per-country stats, while the U.S. remains our largest market, and the U.K. our largest per-capita market, what’s really striking is that Asian markets, notably Japan, Korea and the Philippines, are consistently up month on month,” he said.
Today’s millionth-made British Pi (rightly) isn’t going to stray far. “Sony have made us a gold-plated case to keep it in, and we’ll be displaying it proudly here at Pi Towers [in Cambridge, U.K.],” the Foundation said today.