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Innovation

Brazilian techies to wait longer for local Raspberry Pi

Despite interest, manufacturing in Brazil is yet to become a reality
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer on

The Raspberry Foundation has denied rumours that its low-cost educational computers could be manufactured in Brazil in the next few months.

Linux International Founder Jon "Maddog" Hall has been quoted by Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo earlier this month as saying that a company had shown interest in manufacturing the computers and that if preliminary tests succeeded, production of the Raspberry Pi in Brazil would start around Christmas.

However, the Raspberry Foundation said that production under these timescales would be a rather ambitious goal - and that Maddog is among the people the Foundation has discussed a move to Brazilian manufacturing with, but so far the parties have gone no further than talking about it.

The Foundation also pointed out that it doesn't have any timescale for Brazil manufacturing at the moment and wouldn't want to falsely raise hopes by promising a Christmas start. The Raspberry Pi creators added that they have not selected, or even reviewed, any manufacturing partners - and that can be a "significant lengthener of timescales."

"Our experience in setting up manufacturing, initially in China and later here in the UK, suggests that Christmas would be an extremely optimistic goal: there's negotiation, sourcing, plant, distribution and a ton of contractual work that would need doing before we could even make a start," said Liz Upton, co-founder at the Raspberry Foundation.

Pete Lomas, another Raspberry Pi co-founder, visited Brazil in February for technology and innovation event Campus Party, where he met hundreds of Pi fans and talked about the potential of Brazil as a market for the technology.

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Raspberry Pi co-creator Pete Lomas with high school students in Brazil (Credit: Angelica Mari)

 

But access to the credit card-sized computers - which have a demand that is vastly superior to its production capacity - is a problem to the Brazilian Pi community, as well as price: the $35 computer would cost R$80 in Brazil on a straight currency conversion, but high tariffs mean it ends up costing about R$180 to final consumers.

So there is clearly an audience for the computers, but the Foundation will have to first overcome the hurdles involved in making them in Brazil.

"We are definitely looking at Brazil as our next manufacturing location – it's an important market for us with a real creative appetite for computer education," Lomas said.

"But these things take time and resources which, as a charity, we have to be very careful with, so we're moving carefully and considering the best ways to make the transition, all of which takes time."

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