Sunday, March 01, 2015

State of the Nation

"Procrastination got me to where I am today...."

There has never been a better time for the technically creative hobbyist. New devices are appearing almost daily and prices are constantly being eroded.  This is good news for the enthusiast, but bad news for the people who want to make a living out of selling hardware.  This became ever so apparent when I spotted yesterday that my local PC World were selling Raspberry Pi's for just £19.99.

Yes - I realise that they have just dropped the price of the Model B+, and A+, now that  Model 2 is available, but I never thought I'd see a big box retailer stock the Raspberry Pi, this side of hell freezing over. Perhaps I should get out more. More worryingly, is that I think I paid about £20 for my first Arduino (a Chinese Freeduino copy), and even more disturbing is that if you buy the official Uno R3 from the online store - it will still cost you 20 Euros.  But then, no-one is daft enough to buy the official ones, from the official store - are they?

So hardware prices are tumbling, and this is bad news for people that run online hardware shops, trying to maintain a living, when customers just trawl Ebay or TaoBao for the cheapest. It's an exact parallel to what is happening in the High Street - and why we are struggling to remain a nation of shopkeepers, let alone a world leading industrial manufacturing powerhouse. Those days are over.

So in order to remain afloat in the hardware business, you have to keep inventing the next great thing, or have something so unique about your product, that everyone flocks to it - religiously, and you can afford to keep your margins ridiculously high.

So that's where we are at right now.  Great for tech consumers, not so great for UK GDP.

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