Open source reputations build brand loyalty

Linux users are more like to go to Ask.Com than Bing. They may be more likely to shout their questions across the cube farm than try Bing.

Let me start today by saying I have tried Microsoft's Bing search engine.

I like it., It's good. Sometimes it's better than Google. (Illustration by Dan Ruby of Chitika, a search-targeted ad agency.)

Yet a search of my personal Web logs would doubtless find that Google still gets my business. This is partly out of loyalty to its open source heritage. All else being equal, reputation tips the balance.

And on the Internet, the most important thing to remember is all things always are equal.

It's not just me. A recent study by Dan Ruby of Chitika found Google has 16% more market share among Linux users than Windows users. That's 78% share on Windows, 94% on Linux.

Linux users are more like to go to Ask.Com than Bing. They may be more likely to shout their questions across the cube farm than try Bing.

What this tells me is that reputation has both positive and negative components. If you see a company as an enemy you may avoid them even if their stuff is better. Had Rupert Murdoch bought Facebook might MySpace have won the market? Maybe.

This holds important lessons for Microsoft. Having a better product may be less important than having a good reputation.

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