Some Thoughts on the Stagnation of SBC Market
Alasdair Allan, an editor at Hackster, wrote a piece titled “First Thoughts on the LattePanda Alpha.“ Allan mentioned the roots of his skepticism towards the LattePanda Alpha and its price which is hovering in the low to middle-end laptop range. We wanted to highlight so much more potential than meets the naked eye behind our product and its accompanying fissures for the SBC market.
We will briefly discuss the stagnated SBC market, the maker user-base and the value which we wish to introduce into these products. This also explores and communicates around our perspectives on the current market for Maker boards, the Maker user-base, and the value that the LattePanda brand wants to create.
The Raspberry Pi Era
2012 saw Raspberry Pi release the world’s first $35 small computer, a Linux device that can be used like a regular PC. In the two years between 2013 and 2014, Raspberry Pi set off a big wave of builders, developers, and makers working on compact RPi projects of their own. The predominant focus of the RPI was education, and the Foundation is committed to enabling all students and users worldwide to learn programming, understanding computer thinking and writing through a low-cost computer. Makers joined the ride with a cheap substitute for otherwise-expensive alternatives with lesser price-to-performance ratios.
Soon came other various brands with even cheaper alternatives from $15 to even $5 now. Most of the products in design form, interface and functions were almost completely identical to the Raspberry Pi design! But, with these cheaper boards, there were problems;
• Underperforming CPU selection, accompanied by a variety of performance, compatibility and stability issues
• Cheap component selection on top subpar performing parts, which also proved that the variety of low-priced RPI competing products works on the level of irregularities.
People no longer think about how to make products better; only the need to design products cheaper and in the numbers.
We respect the RPI’s position in the market, but the fact is, we are not competing with it with a price point many times higher than it.
A Windows SBC attempt
In 2015 LattePanda team, took a shot with an Intel x86-based solutions made the world’s first pre-installed Windows 10 Maker board. On Kickstarter, the team gathered 4060 Backers, a good result with over $600K. Based on Intel x86-based technology solutions, the first generation of the LattePanda’s set up on the world’s first developer product running Full Windows 10, on a marker-board level. At the same time, in order to provide the entire system with stronger hardware development ability, the LattePanda also has an Arduino co-processor designed on the board itself to provide more rich playability, interaction, IoT and robots and other usage scenarios.
After two years of community feedback and iteration of hardware and software, we further understand the needs of the SBC market and developers and have a small, dedicated place in the market.
Tools limit our creativity
It is now 2018, and technology has progressed much beyond just LEDs and small projects suited by the RPI and smaller boards. We have seen a lot of change taking place in the hardware, software and technology markets. The team found the market is gearing up for more complex scenarios such as AI, IOT Edges, and local Cloud solutions. For these applications and more, we need new tools. After all, Tools limit our creativity. At the same time, Raspberry Pi has been begging for a refresh to meet the Maker development scene that is being held back by technical restraints.
The team conceived and released two new products: LattePanda Alpha and Delta
Looking at these developments and thinking about the future, the team conceived and released two new products: LattePanda Alpha and Delta. These two hope to widen the Raspberry Pi user-market, to enhance developers’ interest in application-scenarios and application complexity! For example, to develop a smart home control center, developers need a vivid human-machine interface. On top of the interface, the controller needs a rich sensor interface and a powerful localized processor. The rapid development of cloud-based AI technology has seen a trend of AI localization. These require the local IoT Edge Device to have more computing capabilities and interfaces to make it possible to further the capabilities of the local device and be less dependent on external hardware. These possibilities are what the LattePanda device focuses on; developers AND makers. We hope to give both of these groups’ tools to make the possibilities limitless, rather than limit them by hardware.
A brand focused on developer experience
Take the streaming Cable as an example, the LattePanda team found that developers making SBC-based applications need to switch back and forth between mouse and keyboard and display back and forth between their main development PC and the development board, interrupting the developer’s experience. The Streaming Cable enables your Windows-enabled LattePanda device to act like a USB on a Mac or Linux or Windows system. Just plug & play into your Apple / Linux device! The PiP (Picture in Picture) form also eliminates the switching/use of dual mouse and HDMI to connect different systems for a seamless interaction of two different systems. We have embedded a USB Type-C port for future proofing and more convenience for today and tomorrow. This is not a great change, but it incorporates the team’s understanding of the developer experience and the quest for continuous improvement.
Developers have always stood at the forefront of the consumer electronics industry, sometimes with over-engineered tools. Most vendors focus their attention on spec-list, but few vendors observe developer’s unique behaviors, habits, development methods, and as a starting point, think about how to give a good developer experience to accelerate development and efficiency of creations!
Overall, with each generation of LattePanda’s, the Team is making some innovations or contributions to the market through a different perspective or through mixed dimensions in the hope of bringing more possibilities to developers with a unique experience.
We would love to continue this conversation with everyone who is interested and we loved reading your thoughts! Please do not hesitate to reach out to us in the comments section below!
The LattePanda Team.