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  • Regarding google trends:
    0: try adding arduino, even ESP8266 pretty much disappears :)
    1: STM32s were available 10 years ago, those are "just Cortex M chips", available from multiple manufacturers. Lots of documentation. Not some exotic architecture almost no-one heard about.
    2: Google searches can be a metric of wtf/minute :)

    IMO a big user base of ESP8266 and ESP32 is arduino and home automation users. You just set up you home automation system of choice, config things, and don't really program the boards, just use them...

    To add to @maze1980's point: I do have a couple of ESP32 boards, because well they were cheap direct from china. I live in Hungary, ppl in US or West-EU have more money & may think differently. But looks like a lot of people from richer countries buy from China as well.
    I think it's hard to compete money-vise with direct order from China. You avoid customs fees + VAT + taxes to start with. For example a TTGO ESP32 LORA board with display + LiPo charger + SD socket is cheaper than a simple ESP32 DevkitC + lora chip thru Mouser or Farnell.

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