Originally developed as an educational tool, the Raspberry Pi's combination of computer power and low cost has been attracting the interest of professional designers looking for quicker solutions to complex applications.
There has been a gradual shift in thinking about the proper role of small yet powerful single board computers (SBCs) that follow a modular approach in providing extensibility for the basic compute module. Some boards were originally devised as development platforms targeting professional designers, but have since made their way into the hands of hobbyists and makers. Other boards, originally developed for hobbyist and educational applications, are now making their way into professional use, with the result that the distinctions between these various uses is starting to blur.
Take, for instance, the Raspberry Pi. In its original incarnation it was intended to serve as a low-cost platform for teaching school-age children about programming. Using Linux as its base operating system and with a powerful Broadcom microcontroller at its core, the Pi quickly proved itself capable of handling much more than fledgling programming efforts. A solid operating system, reasonable development tools, hardware expansion capability, and a growing body of users fostered growth of a substantial support infrastructure containing both open source software modules and mezzanine cards. That, in turn, began to attract the attention of professional developers looking for a low-cost yet powerful platform for rapid product development.
Such use of the Raspberry Pi is likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the blurring of lines between hobbyist/educational SBCs and professional/prototyping development boards. An increasing number of electronics development projects are coming not from traditional engineering houses but from entrepreneurs with only basic electronics knowledge but substantial subject matter expertise.