Distributors Sell Out of Raspberry Pi in Hours

Due to unprecedented demand for the $35 Raspberry Pi computer, the catalog distributors Premier Farnell and RS Components have posted “Out of Stock” notices on their Websites.

Hours after announcing the availability of the Raspberry Pi, Premier Farnell and RS Components alerted customers they were sold out. The companies say future orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A spokeswoman for Premier Farnell told us in an e-mail that the initial global allocation for the Raspberry Pi was “rather small and not enough to satisfy the kind of demand we’re already seeing. Keep in mind that this is not a normal product line introduction, and we’ll be shipping as many as we can, as soon as we soon.”

Pre-orders for the Raspberry Pi are being accepted at and will be honored as quickly as possible, she said. “We’ll have clearer visibility of stock soon, which element14 will share on the community.”

Catalog distributors typically stock everything they promote on their Websites. Catalogs are the primary destination for quick, small-volume orders for labs, engineers, and DIY enthusiasts. It is uncommon for a catalog house to be sold out of a device.

Volume-level distributors, such as Arrow and Avnet, take orders based on forecasts and lead times. Therefore, customers are accustomed to receiving products weeks after they are ordered.

However, the Raspberry Pi is not a typical electronics product. RS describes the Raspberry Pi as a credit card-sized computer created as an educational tool to re-ignite interest in building and customizing computers. Robert Mullins, cofounder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, demonstrates how easy it is to use in the video below:

“The opportunity to engage a new generation of engineers and computer experts is very much in our sweet spot as a company,” Harriet Green, CEO of Premier Farnell, said in a press release. “Through our element14 Community we will encourage everyone from developers, modders, coders and programmers to discuss, share and develop their ideas and fully utilize the game-changing potential of the Raspberry Pi computer.”

Premier Farnell, the parent company of element14, has a large audience of “modders” and DIY enthusiasts. It broadcasts the DIY/invention-oriented Ben Heck Show on its Website and engages engineers through the elemnet14 Web community.

RS is also accepting pre-orders for the Raspberry Pi at

18 comments on “Distributors Sell Out of Raspberry Pi in Hours

  1. Anna Young
    February 29, 2012

    Barbara, This is an interesting post. The first question it brought to my mind was are these distributors becoming OEMs and competing against their customers?

  2. bolaji ojo
    February 29, 2012

    Another supply chain snafu or just a simple case of underestimated demand? Did these companies fail to anticipate demand or was it just impossible? The pendulum may swing in another direction and too widely if they focused on meeting pent up demand.

  3. Hawk
    February 29, 2012

    Barbara, Perhaps the successful debut of the Raspberry Pi has something to do with the name — imagine, first, raspberry and then Pi. Raspberry pi (pie?)

  4. Anna Young
    February 29, 2012

    Obviously, this is a good example of a great name meeting nicely with a nice product. Even if the name is compelling, the proof of the pudding is still in the eating. A marketing teacher I had once said the best advertising for a product is the product itself. Perhaps that's what's at play here and not just the name.

  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 29, 2012

    Great question! No, actually distrbutors have been selling board-level products for awhile now. The Raspberry is a very basic board level computer that needs to be integrated with a screen, and interface and I'm not sure what else. Maybe it is more like a kit you can put together. It seems to me something you might see at Radio Shack.

  6. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 29, 2012

    I credit the founders of the product–it is a great name!

  7. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 29, 2012

    I think this was definitely an underestimation of demand, combined with a product that is a little out of the ordinary for a component business. The Raspberry Pi seems to me to be something you would pick up at a hobby shop or a Radio Shack. My guess is, there are a lot of consumers and hobbyists out there that wanted this thing, and folks like Ben Heck has raised the awareness of distributors such as element14/Premier Farnell that was strictly in the industrial space. I have never heard of anything like this happening at an industrial distributor, even during allocation, but it happens at retail all the time.

  8. Anna Young
    February 29, 2012

    Barbara, You appear to be ahead of the game. The story has gone viral in other media outlets. I noticed it was one of the top stories on Yahoo. See the following link: Teensy micro-computer goes on sale for $35.

  9. elctrnx_lyf
    March 1, 2012

    looks great, why can't it be sold as a product in a neately packaged in enclosure so that this can be used as a PC at home.

  10. Anand
    March 1, 2012

    @Barbara, thanks for the post. Is it true that currently Raspberry Pi is only available to U.K. customers ? How long we need to wait before we can order it from outside UK ?

  11. Anand
    March 1, 2012

    why can't it be sold as a product in a neately packaged in enclosure so that this can be used as a PC at home.

    @elctrnx_lyf, that is a very good idea but the only disadvantage is it would push the cost of the product higher. And I am not sure if people will buy this if manufacturers increase the price of the product. I think the whole idea of the project is to keep the product simple and raw.

  12. Daniel
    March 1, 2012

    Barbara, cost of the device is very less and its only $35, which is very low when compare with similar products. I think that’s the first lot and in coming lots there may be a chance for increase the price based on demands. That’s a general strategy for capturing business and let’s waits and sees about their pricing policy in coming days.

  13. Eldredge
    March 1, 2012

    @Barbara:  I agree – this is the perfect platform for a hobbyist. It is priced low enough that it could be used as a building block in projects….sort of the hareware version of an App!

  14. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 1, 2012

    @anandvy: The beauty of catalogs is they are geography-neutral. You can order the Raspberry Pi from either PF or RS no matter where you are located. RS expects more stock next week; PF will probably get more at the same time.

  15. Houngbo_Hospice
    March 1, 2012


    “sort of the hareware version of an App!”

    It is more than that. This is a fully functional computer that can be used to run millions of apps…

  16. Eldredge
    March 1, 2012

    @Hospice:  You're right, it is. I pictured it as a building block that, at such a reasonable price, could be dedicated to a specific task.

  17. Cryptoman
    March 1, 2012


    I wonder how easy it is to run a non-Linux OS on Raspberry PI. I am sure it has very good support for Linux drivers but how about others? Can one easily use this cheap and capable hardware platform to run other operating systems? (I know it does not support Windows.) Another question is how friendly is it when it comes to debugging tools etc.

  18. _hm
    March 1, 2012

    Wondeful product! Kudos to innovators / designers.



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