You've hit it right on the head!
I've been following the Raspberry Pi for months now, and that's exactly what it's about. When I was a kid, I had a Spectrum/Vic20/BBC Micro etc, which was where I learned programming and got my teeth into I.T., at a very basic level yes, but 10 years after learning basic on a Spectrum, I got a degree in Maths/Computing, and 20 years after that, I'm still working in I.T. What they're trying to do is get kids into programming and scripting and getting them excited about something other than Xbox games.
Plug this machine into a TV, plug in a keyboard, switch it on, and you have a linux environment that you can tinker with. If you mess up by deleting some system files or whatever, remove the SD card, put the OS back on it, and bang, you're good to go again.
I agree it's not a replacement for a smartphone. It's not the answer to distributed computing. And it's not going to replace the desktop in industry. I don't think it's trying to be any of those things. It's bringing out the inner geek, and making people excited about computing again.
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