That's the interesting thing @betajet - a low price board creates not just the community of coders but a high volume market for embedded systems, keeping the price down and then becoming relevant to the ODM market Junko.
And while the initial demand is high (of course, it's free) the response from Imagination is they are looking at where to set the pricing. Don't forget there are even lower cost ARM dev board out there - the Freescale Freedom M0+ board is $12 and open source (specifically to get around those problems in Brazil, @Max) but that's not a coder's board. Tying it up with the mbed development community was pushing exactly this area, but the lack of penertration in the consumer area is down to the lack of peripherals I think. That's why these board sit around @DrFPGA
The other interesting thing is to look forwards. Imagination has pointed out that this first board doesn't use its Ensigma IP - what about a low cost Ingenic part with the Whisper WiFi IP and Warrior processor embedded as well? A low cost board with good WiFI out of the box running Android kitkat? That is a compelling coder/developer board at $25-$35 that would also make a huge difference to ODMs - and don't forget Imagination has a well established consumer electronics subsidiary (Pure) that already has volume board manufacturing deals. Add in Imagination's Flow cloud software on this to make it easily part of a home system with some aoutmatic discovery and it becomes compellingly easy to set up and use.
Those are the reasons I wouldn't be surprised if this goes head to head with the Pi, even with all those other board around.
I definitely like this direction. The world needs more of those boards. But then, I'd have to stop and ask. Who are the customers of this board? Who would need this board? Is Imagination targeting this board (which looks great!) at "tinkerers" or "makers" crowd, or professional ODMs of the world? Curious mind wants to know.
@Sanjib: Now the latest version of Raspberry Pi model B+ included most of those features.
I got the impression that the Banana Pi has a faster processor and more memory than the Raspberry Pi B+, but I haven;t looked into it (I'm more than happy with my Arduinos for the projects I'm working on).
@betajet: IMO the most interesting thing about Raspberry Pi is the price, which at US$25 for the Model A was revolutionary.
I agree -- the sad thing I discovered in Brazil is that there's a 100% import tax on this sort of stuff. Also, their average household income is about 50% of the USA, which means the Raspberry Pi effectively costs 4X as much there as here...
@Max: I believe, some time back, there was an article about Banana Pi posted on EETimes or somebody posted a comment about Banana Pi and it looked to have more feature as compared to Raspberry Pi model B. Now the latest version of Raspberry Pi model B+ included most of those features.
I guess there is no end to it...we would see many more. And probably based on features, performance and availability of online resources, a couple of them would survive in long term.
According the the CI20 article at LinuxGizmos (linuxgizmos.com/mips-tempts-hackers-with-raspbery-pi-like-dev-board):
The Creator CI20 is supplied free of charge to certain approved projects under Imagination's ecosystem.
They've been deluged with project propsals and are going to send boards to the most interesting ones. Who knows when mere mortals will be able to get their hands on CI20s, and at what price. There may be a dozen more competing boards by then :-)
IMO the most interesting thing about Raspberry Pi is the price, which at US$25 for the Model A was revolutionary. The idea was to make it cheap enough that users -- especially children -- wouldn't have to worry about breaking an expensive piece of equipment. This captured the imagination of many people, who realized that at $25 or $35 many RasPis would be sold so it would be worth developing hardware and software for it. This in turn caused more RasPis to be sold, keeping the price low.
One factor with all these boards is the size and quality of the community that grows up around them. Some of the boards out there have great technical specs, but there's very limited community support so if you're not a Linux system expert you are going to be in trouble if anything goes wrong. RasPi has a very large community and have done a good job of making it as easy as possible to load operating systems.