Who'd benefit from Ubuntu Dell rigs costing $225 more than Windows rigs?

Who'd benefit from Ubuntu Dell rigs costing $225 more than Windows rigs?

Summary: Over on Slashdot I came across an interesting post this morning going by the title of Turns Out Ubuntu Dell Costs $225 More.

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Over on Slashdot I came across an interesting post this morning going by the title of Turns Out Ubuntu Dell Costs $225 More.  It's about how a free RAM and hard drive promotion worth $275 (2GB memory and a 160GB hard drive) actually mean that Ubuntu notebook rigs cost more than equivalent Vista notebooks.  Now the discussion about this particular promotion seems to be a moot point because Dell's pulled the plug on the promotion, but I can't help but wonder whether there's more to this promotion than meets the eye.

OK, it's not news to anyone moving in tech circles that PC prices are very dynamic change all the time, but this one struck me as particularly interesting for a number of reasons.  First off, we have clear proof that Dell will use aggressive promotions to shift Windows PCs but not Ubuntu PCs.  The Dell/Microsoft alliance is still strong (a business move that makes sense).

Secondly, this price drop wasn't a response to fluctuating hardware prices but a temporary special offer on the hardware.  If Dell wanted to shift notebooks, why not apply the promotion across the board?  Why preferentially apply it to Windows rigs?  Who's picking up the tab here?  While many Ubuntu users wouldn't really need 2GB of RAM, the extra hard disk space would have come in handy, and if the RAM's free, why turn it down?  After all, you never know when you might need it. 

Thirdly, dissect this "$275" offer.  No matter how I cut it I can't make difference between two 1GB RAM modules and a 160GB drive compared to two 512MB RAM modules and a 80GB drive come to anything near to $275.  Not even $200.  More like $100.

While it's fun to entertain conspiracy theories that this is a Dell/Microsoft plot to sink Ubuntu, the true is probably far more pedestrian.  Dell's Windows-based notebooks and desktop PCs have to compete and remain competitive with offerings from other vendors.  The Linux rigs, given the small market, do not. 

Thoughts?

Topics: Hardware, Dell, Laptops, Mobility, Open Source, Windows

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  • Paying retail

    Any comparison based on listed costs is going to have little to do with the actual costs to the seller. And Dell in particular rotates incentives with the same value. Meaning you can save the same amount of money on hardware today, shipping tomorrow, monitors the next day. Add up the costs, and you're paying approximately the same amount, no matter which offer you accept.

    Think of it as similar to the $0 for the software and $1,800 for the services (or $1,800 for the software and $0 for the services) allocation of charges for Linux.
    Anton Philidor
    • Topic of my post was:

      Why the supposed dollar value of a discount is a meaningless number.

      Left out the first paragraph.
      Anton Philidor
  • I don't see a conspiracy

    Microsoft want to move as many Dell PCs as Dell does, or Intel, or maybe AMD.

    Big companies help promote the sales. If you've ever seen a OEM ad with a little Intel Inside logo in the lower corner, you know Intel helped pay to place the ad.

    It wouldn't suprise me if MS sponsored the free RAM upgrade for Vista PCs.

    In other words, there's nothing going on here.



    :)
    none none
    • MS probably did NOT sponsor anything

      Dell is famous for its revolving rebates/discounts/free shipping deals. Why would MSFT care if Dell or HP or Toshiba or Acer moves their hardware? MSFT wins when any one of them ships a Windows machine. And do you really think that MSFT would be so stupid as to actively discourage Linux sales when those sales help with the anti-trust "monopoly" charge?

      Get real.
      Confused by religion
      • Re: MS probably did NOT sponsor anything

        [i]MSFT wins when any one of them ships a Windows machine. [/i]

        I guess you're right. I keep forgetting how dysfunctional the PC OS market is.


        [i]And do you really think that MSFT would be so stupid as to actively discourage Linux sales when those sales help with the anti-trust "monopoly" charge?[/i]

        What anti-trust monopoly charge? MS is doing everything it can to halt adoption of Linux.



        :)
        none none
    • Not really. You're confusing who the competitor is

      To Dell, it's not Windows vs Ubuntu, it's Dell vs HP, Compaq, Gateway ect.

      If none of the vendors are really selling a lot of Linux machines, or if it matters liitle to the bottom line, then there's no need to lower the price of any Linux offering.

      On the other hand, if the majority of their sales are Windows machines, (as it is for HP, Compaq, Gateway, ect), then you can bet they'll lower the price as if the majority of people are going to purchase Windows machines, then better it be theirs (Dell) then their competitors (HP, Compaq, Gateway...)
      John Zern
      • Point taken

        I still don't see anything nefarious going on.



        :)
        none none
        • I agree.

          I thinks it's just Dell doing what they do.

          :)
          John Zern
    • There may well be a conspiracy

      The question to be asked indeed is this one; Was the Dell offer on the Inspiron 1420N $275 free upgrade to 2GB memory and a 160-GB hard drive only on that type of hardware or was it on offer across another or a couple of other systems that Dell offers? If the offer was only applicable to the Inspiron 1420N system, then that is a direct attack against Ubuntu Linux. All the other non-sense about competition between other vendors does not apply. Why would the offer be competing with the other vendor offers when there is a whole heap of systems competing? why only this platform?

      Once we drill down to that, then we can safely ask why offer an upgrade for only the one with the windows OS. This is a very pertinent question because for a hardened Linux user wanting to buy that system. No worries, Purchase the windows system and nuke it and install Ubuntu. you know it works on that platform. But the Linux newbie they will be enticed to get the windows deal because it gives them better value for money.
      goxk@...
  • Adrian, I need you to clarify something for me:

    "Dell?s Windows-based notebooks and desktop PCs have to compete and remain competitive with offerings from other vendors. The Linux rigs, given the small market, do not."

    If hardware costs are the same, AT ANY POINT IN TIME, for something which will run either Windows or Linux. And a vendor has to pay something, anything, no matter how little, for OS A (Windows), and NOTHING for OS B (Linux), well then how can a box with OS A EVER cost LESS than a box with OS B?

    This sham comparison tries to say that Linux and Windows are competing against different VENDORS, which they are NOT, they are competing for the SAME USER BASE: the Desktop User.
    OButterball
    • You are wrong..

      "This sham comparison tries to say that Linux and Windows are competing against different VENDORS, which they are NOT, they are competing for the SAME USER BASE: the Desktop User."

      Each computer seller pays a different price for windows depending on the number of copies they purchase. It is called Volume licensing. You purchase a certain number, we give you a certain discount. The same can also be said about the hardware. Two companies would pay different price on the same hardware depending how many they purchase. Again volume licensing but competition is between the hardware makers, not the OS.

      I could be wrong but I don't think Linux really has any volume licensing. There are so many offered from different companies that if you are not happy with one, you can go to another and get the same software but labeled differently. So when a system builder builds a linux system and tries to sell, He is competing from the cost of the hardware and also which linux provider will give it to him for the least cost.
      lenohere
      • Nope, you're wrong.

        "I could be wrong but I don't think Linux really has any volume licensing." Excuse me? Ubuntu Linux is free, both to the hardware vendors and the regular user.

        A hardware vendor doesn't get any break in cost depending on which "version" or "linux distro" he is using; the cost of the hardware has no relationship to the cost of the software.

        If an OEM manufacturer purchases billions and billions of copies of Windows, and another OEM purchases only a few, BOTH OEMs PAY [i]SOMETHING[/i] for Windows and [i]NOTHING[/i] for Ubuntu (you simply download it off the web).

        How is [i]SOMETHING[/i] ever less than [i]NOTHING[/i]?
        OButterball
        • Wait...first of all who is supplying the support

          for the Dell linux boxes? <br>
          What is the business model Shuttleworth is using here? I knew this story better but have forgotten.
          xuniL_z
          • Canonical is supplying the support for Ubuntu ...

            ... IF YOU SO DESIRE. You purchase the Ubuntu boxes WITHOUT support by default. Support is an up-sell.

            Just like they'll try to up-sell you on Windows boxes for MS Office. (No need for that under Ubuntu with OpenOffice included.) And if you are up-sold to the Home version of MS Office, you'll need to be up-sold to MS Outlook for yer mail client. (No need for that under Ubuntu with Evolution included.)

            Looks to me like Ubuntu gets cheaper and cheaper the more "bargains" you take advantage of when buying Windows! <guffaw>
            OButterball
          • ?????

            And if you are up-sold to the Home version of MS Office, you'll need to be up-sold to MS Outlook for yer mail client.

            What, do they remove outlook express?
            John Zern
          • C'mon, John, Outlook Express isn't a stand alone client.

            Let's keep comparing Apples to Apples here.

            ;)

            .
            OButterball
          • Or do as I did and install Thunderbird

            If we are mentioning free mail clients for Linux, why not mention free mail clients for Windows?
            NonZealot
          • What does stand alone have to do with anything???

            Get your Word, Excel, and use Outlook Express as the Email client.

            I am comparing apples to apples: You receive email with yours, others receive email with their OE. Do you think the person using it cares whether it's stand alone or not?
            John Zern
          • JZ: What does stand-alone have to do with it?

            Plenty, especially if you have your email client bound to a buggy, vulnerability-filled web browser!

            Ya must be new to IT, Johnny, otherwise you would be aware of the fact that a vulnerability in one process means you probably have a vulnerability in another, totally different kind of process you have tied to its waist.
            OButterball
          • Now, now, now, NonZealot ...

            ... We're talking about Microsoft and up-selling here! Two Siamese twin peas in the same pod.

            Don't incur the wrath of the Windows Crime Family by suggesting users load something FREE on their MS-powered machine! Naughty! Naughty!

            <chuckle>
            OButterball