Munir Mandviwalla

Can Raspberry Pi disrupt the Thin Model Market?

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The Raspberry Pi is now well-known tech enthusiasts where the low cost flexible computer has found endless uses with millions of users. One of the more interesting business uses of the Raspberry Pi has been as a low-cost thin client for PC’s. Thin client management vendor ThinLinx used the technology with Linux and created custom hardware which can be administered and governed within an organization. Thought it lacks fancy features and hardware support, the small and efficient PC has found a low-end market niche. As displayed in the graph, thin models of enterprise machines took time to meet customer requirements and are now commonplace in most offices. A unique aspect of Disruptive Innovation theory is that technological capabilities improve faster than customer requirements. Over time, this low-cost product in a low-end niche market may advance from a hobby to a corporate asset.

 

  1. Do you see Raspberry Pi climbing “up-market”, or will the incumbents be able to quell their uprising?
  2. Can you think of an example where this customizable and low-cost hardware would be a viable option? Or, do you think more time needs to pass before we can judge their growth and future?

 

Can the Raspberry Pi Disrupt the Thin Client Market.. And the PC Industry

3 Responses to Can Raspberry Pi disrupt the Thin Model Market?

  • I will say the customizable hardware market still is in a stage of growth and I think I consider it new market. Because it is still unknown to some people and still on starting stage of growth, I consider customizable hardware growth an example of the first appearance of the personal computers. Besides this, a lot of companies are starting to use customizable hardware to “technolize” non-electronic objects. Such as a simple coffee maker could be changed into an electronic one and sends text to the user that the coffee is ready. Or, the user sends text to the coffee maker to brew coffee. Thanks to Arduino, one of the customizable hardware brands, the company made a simple coffee maker into a smart one. This shows again that customizable hardware still on their early growth and I will consider it a new market disruption.

  • 1. Do you see Raspberry Pi climbing “up-market”, or will the incumbents be able to quell their uprising?

    Adafruit’s aim for the Pi is far from becoming a thin client for Enterprise. I think SoC based computers will continue to climb up market, especially with Windows providing full support for ARM.

    If ThinLinX succeeds in marketing the Pi I don’t see why Dell or HP wouldn’t start designing their own SoC based thin clients at a competitive price.

    That being said, thin clients aren’t all that. From time to time I’ll do some work on IS&T Capstone projects and have to use Visual Studio via Citrix Receiver. I also use SSH Secure Shell daily via Citrix receiver. It lags and freezes, takes forever to open. All this while using premium hardware on a connection about 2x faster than average.

    2. Can you think of an example where this customizable and low-cost hardware would be a viable option? Or, do you think more time needs to pass before we can judge their growth and future?

    In the MIS classrooms. For some ungodly reason they have lots of software installed on those expensive Dell all-in-ones. In order to complete the EPR assignment for MIS 2101 we had to go in to the classroom.

    Instead, they could have thin clients in the classrooms and we could use Citrix receiver to work remotely.

  • I currently use the Raspberry Pi at the office to display realtime server metrics on a wall with four large LCD TVs. Our original plan was to view the metrics in the built in “Smart TV” browser, but its functionality was so limited that we needed a real computer browser. The Raspberry Pi 3B has the perfect balance of price and performance with Wifi connectivity for our use case, but I could imagine someone needing something more power for a more complex display.

    In my opinion, I do not see the Raspberry Pi foundation moving more upmarket unless they change their mission. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is actually a charity in the UK that was created to develop an inexpensive platform for computer education in UK pulbic schools, and its patron is the Duke of York. Other companies have moved in to make competing high-end versions, namely Intel who is threatened the dominance of the ARM architecture in the single board computer (SBC) market. Cheaper alternatives from China (the Raspberry Pi is actually manufactured in Wales) like the Banana Pi have also appeared but they are not priced as low as one might expect.

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