After fifty years of Moore’s Law we’re getting to a place where computing is not just cheap, it’s essentially free. While at the high end the pace of progress has slowed, at the low end of the market the price of computing is still falling. As technology matures, it becomes cheaper.
The ESP8266, a general use micro-controller with Wi-Fi and GPIO, and can be found in quantity for less than $2. However, form factor matters. The “classic” Arduino layout including the irritating, irregular, offset between pins 7 and 8, has become a standard, almost by default. In addition to clones and imitators, the huge community surrounding the board has brought with it shields and other hardware designed for its configuration.
So it’s actually sort of interesting that a few weeks ago now Seeedstudio dropped the price of their Arduino-compatible board, the Seeeduino V4.2, from $19.95 all the way down to $6.90. That’s a price cut of roughly 65%.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been waiting for them to put the price back up, on the assumption that they were just clearing end of line stock. But that hasn’t happened.
Seeed achieved this by improving our supply chain management techniques and capability, improving our agile manufacturing techniques, and making more efficient use of our factory machinery.
The assumption then is that this is a real, permanent price drop.
The Seeeduino V4.2 is based the ATmega328P, just like the Arduino UNO. While it keeps the standard Arduino form factor it also has an additional set of through-hole pads for the header pins, aligned t the standard 0.1 inch grid. Making it easy to solder additional pin-headers to plug directly into breadboard.
Additionally it has three Grove connectors on the board, and if you’ve bought into Seeedstudio’s Grove System that could be a serious advantage.
However the most interesting thing about the price drop is that Seeedstudio are offering customization of the board using their Fusion service.
Customers can create their own customized Seeeduino — or what we call their “YOURduino” — in the Seeed Fusion with only $25 setup fee, starting from 1 piece… Fusion has launched special offer for Duino customize service for over 1000 units. It is only $6900 in total for 1000 units Duino (you can design your own logo on Seeedunio). If you are interested in our special offer or have more questions regarding this PCBA service, please contact us at email@example.com.
In other words, you can customize their board design — including the slikscreen art — and they’ll charge you the same price. Presumably all curtesy of a mature technological base.
The beauty of capable computing, computing that is good enough, and cheap enough, is that it can be used in ways that expensive computing can’t. Because if your computing is cheap enough to throw away, you’re going to use it very differently than if it wasn’t.
More information about the Seeeduino V4.2 can be found on their Wiki.