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The official Raspberry Pi acces­sory distributor conundrum

Why isn’t the Norwegian keyboard layout variant of the official Raspberry Pi keyboard accessory available for sale in Norway? Norway is the primary, if not the only, market for it. I went up the distribution chain to figure out why it isn’t available.

I’ve been ogling the new Raspberry Pi 400: a single-board computer built into an 80s-style computer-in-a-keyboard case. It’s not currently available with a Norwegian keyboard layout. However, the top chassis of the Raspberry Pi 400, including the keyboard, is interchangeable with the official Raspberry Pi keyboard accessory. You can pop off the keyboard of a Pi 400 and swap it out with any other Raspberry Pi brand keyboard. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the official keyboard accessory should be available in a Norwegian layout variant.

What does “available” mean anyway? The official keyboard’s product page on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website doesn’t list any resellers for the Norwegian layout variant in either of the available color options (red/white and black/gray). None of the companies that sell the Raspberry Pi in Norway sells any layout variant of the keyboard accessory. Neither Google Shopping nor any of the Norwegian price comparison websites can find it listed in any store. Bing and Google can’t find any Norwegian website that sells it either. The product doesn’t seem to exist.

To find out, I had to go up the distribution chain. Official Raspberry Pi products that use the Raspberry Pi trademark are manufactured on a license from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Most Raspberry Pi computers are manufactured by Sony in Wales, but the accessories are manufactured in China and Japan. The products are distributed by RS Components and Farnell (a.k.a. Newark and Element14) in Europe and North America.

All but one retailer that sells the Raspberry Pi in Norway source it from RS Components. The RS Components website lists the French, German, Italian, Spanish, and United Kingdom layout variants of the official keyboard. These are the keyboards variants that were introduced with the first batch of keyboards layouts in April 2019. The Danish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish (introduced in July 2020), or Japanese (August 2020) variants are simply not available through RS Components.

Farnell, however, does list both color options of all the new keyboard layouts. The one Norwegian Raspberry Pi distributor that sources from Farnell only sells the official case, however. They’ve ignored my emails asking them to list the Norwegian keyboard. Farnell also operates a version of its website for the Norwegian market, and it lists the Norwegian layout variant in red/white and black/gray. Farnell Norway has no presence in any price comparison websites, and the site is almost practically undiscoverable in Bing and Google (unless you know to look for it).

After realizing I could obtain it through Farnell, I quickly found a list of Farnell distributors that sold the keyboard, including Pimoroni and Jkollerup. Both retailers ship to Norway.

I’ve confirmed that Pimoroni began selling the keyboard around mid-October 2020, and Jkollerup began sometime in early July 2020. So it has been available for some time already. If I don’t limit myself to Norwegian websites, I can find the Farnell Norway website and Pimoroni’s listing with Bing and Google. Pimoroni has got the essential keywords “Raspberry Pi keyboard”, “Norwegian layout”, and “NO layout” on the page. Pimoroni has opted to make one product page per keyboard layout and color combination.

Jkollerup, on the other hand, is at the bottom of page eleven for the search “Raspberry Pi Norwegian keyboard”. It has one page for all the official keyboard variants with a drop-down menu for choosing between the different variants. Jkollerup’s page has the keyword “Norwegian” (but not in the context of the product listing), and “Raspberry Pi keyboard”. However, the page talks about the “US layout” which isn’t even sold through the retailer.

Neither Pimoroni nor Jkollerup mentions search terms like “we ship to Norway”, “international shipping”, or anything that might help potential shoppers from Norway locate their websites. Electronics retailers often include the manufacturer’s model number on their product listings. Raspberry Pi products don’t have model numbers, which makes them more difficult to search for online. I thought this was an interesting miniature case study of page keywords.

It’s actually rare to see anyone opting to make separate Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish keyboard layouts. Most keyboards use the pan-Nordic layout for distribution in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, (sometimes Iceland), Norway, and Sweden. The pan-Nordic layout prints every key variant in different positions on each key that differs between the layouts. This is both unattractive and potentially confusing if you don't touch-type. As far as I know, only Apple products and some Lenovo ThinkPad models use the different national keyboard layout variations. (Estonia and Finland use the Swedish layout.) Raspberry Pi’s inexpensive keyboard is unique in its price bracket for offering distinct layouts for each region. Even 300 euro “pro” keyboards use the pan-Nordic layout.

Both Farnell and RS Components also distribute other official Raspberry Pi accessories, including a display cable. The official cable costs roughly 5,60 euros and is an HDMI version 2.0 cable that supports 4 K at 60 Hz. None of the Norwegian retailers sell this accessory or any other brand micro-HDMI to HDMI 2.0 cables. Instead, they try to sell what they call “Raspberry Pi 4 compatible” HDMI version 1.4 cables (up to 4 K at 30 Hz) for 29 euros or more.

I don’t know why the Norwegian retailers don’t want to sell the Raspberry Pi-branded micro-HDMI to HDMI cable. I suspect that retailers fear it would hurt sales of some of the more expensive and outdated cables they already have in their inventory. Why bother with maintaining inventory and selling a cheaper and more capable product when you make more money selling a decade-old cable instead? I suspect this is the case for all the other official Raspberry Pi accessories as well. It fills the same price bracket as the more profitable store brand goods. Unlike many store brand electronics, the Raspberry Pi accessories are both high quality and cheap.

Farnell subsidiary CPC lists the Norwegian layout variant of the Raspberry Pi 400 for sale. It’s not listed on Farnell Norway or any other Farnell website. CPC only ships to the United Kingdom, however. I contacted Farnell Norway, and they told me the product wasn’t available and that it would be removed from the CPC website. The product listing is still up on the CPC website with no stock a month later. The product page shows that it’s expected in stock in the first week of January 2021.

Update (): The Swedish retailer Kjell (an RS Components reseller) began accepting pre-orders for the Raspberry Pi 400 with a Norwegian keyboard layout on (two days after I researched and wrote this article). Kjell doesn’t list an estimated availability date. Neither CPC nor Kjell lists just the Norwegian keyboard accessory, though. The Raspberry Pi Foundation added Jkollerup as a distributor of the Norwegian keyboard layout Raspberry Pi keyboard accessory on .

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