From Windows Capable to the Linux laptop

From Windows Capable to the Linux laptop

Summary: Personally I find something touchy and silly in some of HP's efforts in this direction. Women want the same things from their laptops as men, for instance. But the key point is they are serious here, not just about the engineering but the marketing.

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HP 1000 from CNETÂ’s Crave blogI think you can draw a straight line from the Vista Capable brouhaha to recent introductions of laptop Linux by HP and Dell, once Microsoft's most loyal OEMs.

(That is the HP 1000 to the right, from the screen of our own Erica Ogg.)

Up in Seattle, TechFlash is gleefully poring over court filings related to Microsoft requiring a specific graphics chipset in order for OEMs to get what it thought was a coveted designation.

But I think the more important result came about without the use of lawyers. That designation became less coveted.

Windows advocates will argue that the netbook form factor was inevitable. They will point to growing support for the form factor within Microsoft itself. They will call Linux alternatives el-cheapos, even spin all this as a threat to Linux.

What's great is we don't have to argue about it. No politics, not even corporate politics, will determine the outcome. (Oh, goody.)

The market will decide.

In line with that, HP's efforts deserve special attention. When you put a famous designer's name on it, you're targeting consumers, not those geeks at ZDNet. And, to keep prices low, these will be all-Linux models.

(I can't wait for the ad where a model falls on the runway, Chris Berman screams "Down Goes Frazier," but her Linux laptop still works.)

Just as important as HP's efforts to make a true mass market Linux laptop is its effort to make a profit at it, even using the old mobile phone business model of bundling wireless service with the device. This has already worked in Europe.

When you're talking about PCs retailing at $4-600 each, it's easy to see that price being under $200 with a two-year wireless contract. Works for Apple. Can it work for Linux?

Personally I find something touchy and silly in some of HP's efforts in this direction. Women want the same things from their laptops as men, for instance. But the key point is they are serious here, not just about the engineering but the marketing.

Can we build a serious market for the Linux laptop in 2009? Yes we can.

Topics: Hardware, CXO, IT Employment, Software, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Linux, Laptops, Hewlett-Packard, Windows

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43 comments
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  • Please not another ....

    ... "This is the year for Linux" prediction. You guys are a broken record.
    ShadeTree
    • Take notice or disregard. Your choice not to read.

      nt
      no_zd_user_name
    • I could make a strong argument that it already happened

      Linux was never going to displace Windows. But it has already found a nice home on handheld devices and netbooks (not to mention the original UNIX stronghold of servers and high end workstations). And if you want it on a full-sized laptop or desktop it's readily available through legitimate OEM channels. This is the breakthrough Linux fans had been looking for since that admittedly tired "the year for Linux" first came about.

      Well.. that and interoperability, which MS at least for the moment is allowing to happen (and even helping in a few cases). So I don't see a need for that tired old slogan anymore since the movement more or less has accomplished what it set out to do. Choice is available. Linux is here. But so is Windows, and OS X, and Solaris and many others. And that's a great thing.
      Michael Kelly
      • Still a distant third on the desktop.

        The numbers just don't support your arguement.

        http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=8
        ShadeTree
        • So what?

          My argument has nothing to do with numbers. It has everything to do with availability and capability.

          Most web hits will still be coming from desktops and full sized laptops. And most of those will be Windows systems. But just as a 4th place finish doesn't qualify the iPhone as a failure, neither does a 3rd place finish qualify Linux as a failure. The Nintendo Wii has only a .01% share, yet no one is calling the Wii a failure.

          They all have their place.
          Michael Kelly
          • .01% ?

            As of May of this year (yeah i know 6 months old but was too lazy to look for newer numbers) the Wii has sold 9.5 million in the U.S. compared to 10 million Xbox 360's in the U.S. with the PS3 a distant 3rd. I agree with the gist of your comments, but the Wii's world market share is more like 39% not he .01% as you suggested, 360 has 40% and PS3 21%.
            todbran9
          • Click ShadeTree's link

            It's a statistic of web hits for October. And I agree, that .01% statistic is meaningless to this discussion.
            Michael Kelly
          • Wrong, wrong and wrong when it comes to sales.

            Where do you people get your figures? Do provide some links when you give figures, okay?

            I came up with these:

            http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/news/wii-us-installed-base-now-leads-xbox-360-by-almost-2-million/?biz=1

            http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/11/october-game-sales-nintendo-wii-kicking-ps3-butt

            :-)
            Arm A. Geddon
        • I submit that will change.

          Net Applications is a useless tool, you have read all the posts, they have no real validity in determining marketshare. However, Acer is expected to sell 20M netbooks this year alone, surpassing Asus at projected 18M. At 35% and 30% linux respectively, that's 10M users this year alone.

          In europe the number being sold with Linux is higher. Expected to be 30-40% of the ENTIRE notebook sales next year, or over 60M machines, that's another 20M Linux users.

          Since Ubuntu alone, excluding all other distro's and EVERY netbook ever sold has a verified market share higher than Net Applications currently shows, I'll ask you to show ONE valid reason to believe Net Applications. A proprietary IIS only opt in network of click driven revenue companies as your basis for marketshare?

          TripleII
          TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • Assuming that there is no difference ....

            ... in the number of people browsing based on OS then it should acuurately protray what people are using for an OS. Unless you can show a reason why Linux users don't browse these sites then your arguement is specious.
            ShadeTree
          • That's quite an assumption

            to be making considering we aren't necessarily talking about traditional desktops or laptops. I use my Eee primarily for e-mail (IMAP), multimedia, and remote desktop. So my Eee would not register on that statistical count. Likewise any device used primarily for e-mail would register fewer page counts than an all-purpose device.

            And what about all those AVG clients that beef up web hits simply because it wants to scan links BEFORE they are clicked? Is that taken into consideration?
            Michael Kelly
        • Sure enough...

          ...heres someone that can't wrap their head around the concept. Numbers mean nothing as long as we can get pre-installed Linux and can access just about anything Windows and Mac can access.

          By the way....I know you noticed Windows Office Live adding support for Linux and making that well known...
          storm14k
      • Amen and THANK YOU!!!

        The anti-FOSS folk just can't wrap their head around this. Its never been about numbers for many Linux users. It was about availability and interoperability. There are just a few holdouts left but in general the year of linux for the linux user has come and gone. What most people talk about now is how MS has to watch their back. They are the only ones with something to lose in all of this.
        storm14k
        • I have said for ever

          I have said for ever that I would be more than happy with MS just below 75% of the market, with the rest taken by more than one OS in double-digits. That would ensure that cross-platform standards are used and that I could access stuff even if I use a "minor" OS.
          60/20/20 - MS/OSX/Linux would be ideal for me.
          daengbo
    • It may not be THE year of Linux, but, it is just another good year for

      Linux in general. The acceptance of Linux on netbooks was a first ever type of event. This is the first time that Linux started out as the only alternative for a new category, and even after MS revived XP for this and gave huge discounts, Linux still has 30% market share.

      Linux just keeps on going and going. Every year, more penetration in Servers, POS, embedded, cell phones, etc. Linux is improving faster than Window and is much more flexible.

      We really do not care which year is "THE" year.
      DonnieBoy
      • Not what the numbers show!

        http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=8
        ShadeTree
        • You are only looking at traditional desktop share. What about servers, cell

          phone, netbooks, POS, etc? You did not notice that Linux has 30% in netbooks? The point is that Linux is getting better faster than Windows, and growing EVERY year on a lot of different form factors.

          So, it is not THE year, just another good year.
          DonnieBoy
        • Ah, I see you are rolling

          your tired link out again! Haven't you been smacked enough over that? ]:)
          Linux User 147560
          • It's one of the last FUD tools there are.

            An IIS only opt-in netowrk of premium clients measuring click driven sales in North America. Of course it favors Windows, who uses FF on Linux without AdBlock (or on Windows without adblock, severely skewing their market measurements)? It is provably wrong and still trotted out as the "gold standard". They keep massaging the data in new ways to suppress anything non MS related, including FF, Apple, embedded and of course Linux.

            When provably Ubuntu alone, on downloads only, has more marketshare than Net Applications shows, it is getting harder and harder (not that anyone ever does) to state a single reason to believe their stats.

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • I assume you have some evidence to ...

            ... support your claims. Surely you are not spreading FUD? Your wild speculation does not change the facts!
            ShadeTree