Eben Upton, co-founder of Raspberry Pi, on hardware hacker-friendly Shenzhen:
One of the big problems with large Western components companies is that they have such big overheads that they have to qualify (sales) opportunities. One of the reasons that the Raspberry Pi has been successful is that we have taken high-end software and silicon that you can’t normally only buy a million of, because you have got to get through an opportunity certification program… it could cost a hundred thousand dollars for them to just to think about selling you the chip. They have got to know if it will be worth it.
There’s all this wonderful silicon which is completely fenced off from your average maker. So that’s what Raspberry Pi has done, is dragging together all that harm into one basket, get that through opportunity certification, largely because I worked for the silicon company in question. Now we are big enough, that if [we] took Raspberry Pi now and took it to a silicon company saying we want to buy your silicon they would say yes. The problem is nobody would believe it until it happens.
That’s the lovely thing about Shenzhen. There’s no opportunity qualification, they don’t care. They have no overheads, they have one guy on the store, their own factory and they make stuff. For Makers, people who maybe want to make a hundred or a thousand that’s awesome... [Raspberry Pi gets] you over one barrier, then Shenzhen gets you over the other, and suddenly you’ve got a product, you’ve got a business.