A low-cost, high-performance tech product is about to hit the market and will be available only through limited distribution. Sound familiar? When the Raspberry Pi hit the market, its two distributors were immediately overwhelmed with orders. A comparable product launch is shaping up, and element14 is ready.
Freescale Semiconductor Inc. , at its annual FTF Americas conference this week, launched its Freescale Freedom development platform for Kinetis KL2 32-bit MCUs. Targeted at applications in small appliances, gaming accessories, portable medical systems, audio systems, smart meters, lighting, and power control applications, the platform allows designers to leverage 32-bit capabilities at 8-bit to 16-bit price and power consumption levels. Element14 is the only distributor taking pre-orders for the board, which will be available at the end of September.
The move is a departure for the catalogue distributor, which specializes in quick-turn, low-volume orders. "It is a unique case in that it allows people to pre-order a product so they can be first to get access to the part," Jeff Jussel, senior director of technical marketing, Newark element14, told EBN.
"This is a situation where we are collaborating closely with our supplier and allows us first access to new markets that we think will generate interest. It also allows our supplier to gauge demand before the board is in play. We believe that designers will be able to get a running start in a wide variety of applications."
The platform is also priced at a level Freescale believes will spur high demand. When the $35 Raspberry Pi computer was released in February, element14 and RS Components sold out within hours.
"This is a bit different in that Raspberry Pi is a computing platform where Freescale Freedom is a development platform for embedded systems," said Jussel. Raspberry Pi was developed and is sold by a charitable organization, whereas Freescale is a long-established supplier to the electronics supply chain. Nevertheless, element14 learned a few things from Raspberry Pi. "Freescale Freedom provides easy technology adoption at a low price point and is applicable to a wide variety of markets," said Jussel. "We learned a lot about our ability to handle incoming orders and new product introduction through the Raspberry Pi. That's part of the learning curve."
Element14's engineering community and design site The Knode also factored into the relationship. "We are partnering in a new way," Jussel said. "Because we have a connection with the community and provide both development tools and services, we really do offer a full solution."