Penguin on the Desktop

Political sense

It looks like a Linux-based solution for the PC market is becoming reality, writes Robin Bloor, of Bloor Research. Leading global PC providers are now offering a Linux option for price sensitive markets such as India and Thailand.

A few weeks ago IBM introduced an India-only PC offering for the small and medium business sector. Acer of Taiwan launched two Linux-based multimedia PC configurations into the same market. It comes with Redhat v 8.0, an office package (wp plus spreadsheet) email, chat and surfing. Acer will provide Windows if you want but you pay an extra $90 or so - which amounts to a significant extra fee in the Indian market.

HP also offers Linux in India, as does a major Korean manufacturer, LG Electronics. It looks as though HP, IBM and Acer are using India (and Thailand) as test markets, and if it works, then other markets will follow. China, if you didn't know, is a major user of Linux on the desktop, but for China - the software license violation superpower - Linux makes political sense. If it moves wholesale to Linux then one day it will be able to claim to be inscrutably honest.

Interest in Linux is also exploding elsewhere in the third world from Brazil to the Philippines, so the possibility arises that the Linux desktop will proliferate from the ground up, storming the North American and European markets after establishing economies of scale in the third world.

An IDC market survey made available last week, suggests that Linux is acceptable to only 15 percent of global desktop PC users, but that's interesting because Linux PCs only account for a few percent of PC sales, so its acceptance looks to be on the increase. Given all of this, our expectation is that the Linux desktop will 'cross the chasm' this year, and start to proliferate next year. It is beginning to look unstoppable.


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