Customers eager to get their first taste of the Raspberry Pi have been left angry and disappointed by distributor RS Components, which is failing to cope with demand.
The Oxford-based company has admitted to falling behind in sending out orders for the £25 Linux mini-computer, leading buyers on Raspberry Pi forums and elsewhere to complain of delays of up to six months.
"This is ridiculous," said TheToothBrushMan on the Raspberry Pi forum on 1 October. "I registered with RS back in 25th MAY! And still no sign of the pi! I am being told that the 17+ weeks is due to difficulty in the supplier providing."
Demand for the Raspberry Pi has been fierce, and RS Components said it has received 250,000 global orders for the Model B — suggesting that hundreds, if not thousands, of buyers might have been hit by the delay. The device has proved popular with hobbyists despite being conceived as a tool for teaching kids to program.
"We were originally expecting to sell between one and 10,000 units," Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton explained.
RS Components, which works with Chinese manufacturing partners to build its Raspberry Pis, is warning new customers that the device won't be dispatched for six weeks. It puts the hold-up down to problems getting hold of the Broadcom BCM2835 chip at the heart of the credit card-sized computer, as well as the levels of demand.
"While we have put every effort into getting the complete manufacturing and customer service systems in place as fast as possible, there have been ongoing supply problems of the core processor from the sole manufacturer, Broadcom," said Glenn Jarrett, global head of product marketing at RS Components.
"Unfortunately, our demand for volume orders was not satisfied. We've had to wait for delivery of the next production run of Pi processors, which has delayed the fulfilment of Raspberry Pi orders to our customers," he added.
The Broadcom delay added six weeks to existing lead times for devices ordered this summer, according to RS Components.
By contrast, the second main Raspberry Pi distributor, Element 14/Premier Farnell, promises delivery two weeks after ordering. This is in part because it does its manufacturing in a Sony facility in Pencoed, South Wales, rather than China, the company said.
"There's a physical proximity to the product, which helps when the main market for the Raspberry Pi is Europe," said Mike Buffham, global head of electronics design engineering at Element 14/Premier Farnell. "There's obviously reduced shipping costs and transit times."
Raspberry Pi Foundation's Upton suggested that Farnell also predicted the market more accurately, meaning it was better prepared for demand.
"My perception is the two companies made a different judgement on what volume was going to do in the third quarter and where the market was going," he said. "Farnell's judgement turned out to be slightly more accurate than RS's."
RS Components said it received 40,000 Raspberry Pis in September and is expecting additional deliveries through October. It has promised daily deliveries as chip availability improves from November onwards, which should let it clear all outstanding orders.