There is no shortage of hardware companies — large and small — that are currently trying to emulate the success of the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. Some of them will have a lot more success than others, partially due to the difficulty of differentiating their board from all the other contenders. The new Sharks Cove board — a joint venture between Microsoft, Intel and CircuitCo — doesn’t have that problem. Unfortunately it has a much worse problem, mixed messages.
Almost every single media outlet talking about the board — from Gizmodo, to Engadget to Ars Technica — lead off by a comparison with the Raspberry Pi, or worse yet the Arduino. The problem being, if you’re interested in a Raspberry Pi you’re not going to be interested in this board. Priced at almost x10 the cost of the Raspberry Pi, the Sharks Cove is not competing in the same market.
“At $299, this is a board that we believe will find a home with Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) and hardware enthusiasts alike. That price not only covers the cost of the hardware but also includes a Windows 8.1 image and the utilities necessary to apply it to the Sharks Cove.”
Intended as a development board for both Windows and Android and (perhaps more properly) pitched at small independent hardware companies for driver development, the Sharks Cove has an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core chip with speeds from 1.33GHz to 1.83GHz, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash storage, and a MicroSD card slot.
Viraf Gandhi and Peter Wieland talking about the Sharks Cove at the Microsoft //build conference in April
This is not a Raspberry Pi competitor, it’s anything but. Unfortunately the overly eager addition of the throw-away phrase “and hardware enthusiasts” in the press release — presumably to encourage people to write about the new board — may well have done far more damage to Microsoft’s reputation than the additional press will warrant. Because nobody is going to pay $300 for a board that’s being pitched head-to-head with the Raspberry Pi, and that’s exactly what the press have done to Sharks Cove, and in the process they’ve cast Microsoft as crazy to try.