micro:bit market evaluation: BBC

In March 2015 the BBC announced plans to give away a million programmable devices to schoolchildren. Here’s how Unthinkable helped them do that.

BBC Learning approached Unthinkable in autumn 2014 to discuss their micro:bit project, a flagship initiative of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital campaign. The project gave away one million devices in spring 2016 – one for every year 7 child in the country. BBC Learning wanted our advice on forming a broad, honest and independent picture of the existing market for small, programmable devices, to better understand any competitive impact of this initiative. They were also looking for a picture of existing products and services to inform engagement with potential delivery partners.

In a few short weeks, Unthinkable conducted a detailed survey of entry-level code editors and apps, browser-based learning resources, relevant electronics manufacturers and suppliers, and providers of packaging, delivery and distribution, merchandising, hardware peripherals and promotion. In the process we not only considered potential partnerships for the BBC but also worked hard to tease out the different structural roles that different partners could play, particularly in the software space.

We also took a hard look at the marketplace for entry-level coding products and wearables, and shared a brief analysis of our own with a view to helping the BBC make its judgement about the best way to position micro:bit to ensure positive market impact. BBC Learning have described our report as “an important piece of evidence in our overall policy rationale”, and invited us back for a further assessment of the market and impact analysis in spring 2016. We are very proud to have played our part in this bold and exciting initiative.