How big of a phenomenon is the Raspberry Pi? The charity organization behind the tiny, low-cost computer announced this morning that over 5 million Pis have now been sold. The original Pi went on sale about three years ago next week, so 5 million is a pretty huge milestone to hit in that short period of time. The organization boasts that this figure appears to make it "the biggest selling UK computer manufacturer ever," though you wouldn't be wrong to take issue with its comparison: Pi is selling $20 to $35 computers — not machines that you're going to use for serious productivity for a few years.
About a third of the Pis are believed to be in educational settings
Still, that's not a knock on any of the Pis. They're surprisingly capable machines at just $35, especially following the introduction of a faster new model and the addition of powerful software to run on it. The Pi is a great tool for small experiments, coding, and introducing computers to classrooms that otherwise couldn't afford them. The Raspberry Pi Foundation tells us that it estimates there's been an even split between the computers ending up in educational, hobbyist, and industrial settings. Those are encouraging figures, as the hope has always been that Pis will be used to get kids interested in computers and coding — and not just end up on the shelves of existing hobbyists.
The original Raspberry Pi, known as the Model B, accounts for most of the 5 million total sales, with the foundation estimating that there are now about 3 million out there. There are about 1.5 million of the Model B+, which is an incremental successor that debuted last July, and about 100,000 to 150,000 of the Model A and Model A+ units, which are the lower-end Pi units. Finally, the foundation says there have been about 500,000 sales of the Pi 2 so far. That's a pretty good start for a computer that was announced two weeks ago.
Just confirmed the big news we’ve all been waiting for: we’ve now sold more than 5 million Raspberry Pis.— Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi) February 17, 2015
We think that this means that in just under 3 years, we’ve gone from zero to being the biggest selling UK computer manufacturer ever. Yowza.— Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi) February 17, 2015
Update 1:11PM ET: This story has been updated with a sales breakdown from the Pi Foundation. It has also been updated with comment on the number of units in educational and other settings.