Ubuntu goes with newspaper model in consumer market

Ubuntu goes with newspaper model in consumer market

Summary: What Ubuntu is trying to do is find an audience which has hardware but lacks regular Internet access or knowledge.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Ubuntu logoNewspapers are free.

By that I mean the price you pay for a newspaper has nothing to do with the cost of prodution, including its editorial costs.

What you're paying are delivery costs, the money needed to get that paper from the plant to your door or your vendor's stand.

By selling disks of its free software for $19.99, Ubuntu is doing the same thing. The money pays for BestBuy to deliver it to stores, for shelf space, and for tracking sales.

We have, in fact, been here before.

Back in the late 20th century, floppies with shareware were sold in stores and at trade shows for $5-10 each. Again, the money went to distribution.

The software would then try to tease more money out with ads, nagging, or by turning itself off after a few uses. (Ask your dad about that.)

Ubuntu does not have to do any of this, although contributions of time, code and money are always appreciated. What it's trying to do is find an audience which has hardware but lacks regular Internet access or knowledge.

Believe it or not, there are such people.

Big Money Matt suggests, quite rightly, that the key here will be whether Ubuntu stays with the program, noting Red Hat didn't. But Red Hat was never really a consumer product. Ubuntu is.

If delivering bits in bulk from the back of a truck sounds like a step backward, it is. But the stupidities of the Internet market are, as Alton Brown might say, another show.

Topic: Open Source

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10 comments
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  • What about the 60 days of support?

    I think you missed something . . . 60 days of support for the package. The newspaper analogy doesn't quite work when you include that fact.
    bubba555
    • I hope ...

      I hope that the support is good. probably 12 in 13 problems on the Ubuntu forums involve installation, hardware configuration, or post-install confusion.

      If the user has someone to talk to for sixty days, and that person actually fixes the problems for the user, the user is unlikely to quit in disgust.

      Surprisingly, I installed 7.04 for someone over a year ago. She had lots of questions and I set up a blog to help her. She left the country in September and I hadn't heard questions from her since. I had assumed that she got someone to install Windows for her, but she contacted me again this week because she had accidentally removed her task bar.

      As far as I can tell, an average (but bright) lady used Ubuntu for eight months with no assistance after the adjustment period and is still quite happy with it.
      daengbo
  • RE: Ubuntu goes with newspaper model in consumer market

    I see no point to selling the Ubuntu family in stores. - Or any other distro for that matter. Those that you mention in your article that would be prospective buyers will not understand the install routine fully in case they run into problems.

    Also, they will not understand that some newer hardware will not be recognized by the Ubuntu family as with other distros. How many of these people will be able to use the command line to invoke NDISWrapper to run the Windows driver for a Realtek 8187B U.S.B. Wi-Fi adapter found in most laptops?

    Until the popular Linux distros can drive current hardware on an ever changing landscape; Linux should stay out of the main retail stream. It's just asking for trouble. Where's your Linux Geek?
    The Rifleman
    • You have the same kinds of issues with Windows. There are many things that

      happen with Windows that the typical users can not fix. Why is it a problem with Ubuntu, and not Windows?
      DonnieBoy
      • Why is it a problem with Ubuntu, and not Windows?

        I am not talking about a running version of Linux or Windows; I am talking about just the setup/install routine. The Win-Setup is far more easy then even the easiest Linux Setup when the Linux Setup goes bad by not recognizing hardware. Then you need to be a Linux Geek just to solve the problem or sacrifice the use of the unrecognized hardware. It could be your Graphics Card and then you can have issues in rendering Web-Pages. They can become fuzzy and badly broken. Rendering the visual portion of general usage events can be more frustrating than a slow loading Windows situation.

        The problem with Windows is it is fundamentally broken to begin with until Service Pack 2 is released and subsequently patched. So these same Users can, like anybody, have sophisticated issues requiring a Win-Geek. I will trade Setup Problems for operational problems any day as operational problems are easier to fix in Windows than fixing a bad setup in Linux.
        The Rifleman
        • Stick with your choice then

          You should stick with your choice then. Broken by design will always be a problem for windows--If it was built right the first time then people would not want to upgrade to a newer (broken) version of windows

          As for Ubuntu Linux--is just another operating system --not fundamentally flawed by design but nonetheless has limitations as all software does.
          X41
        • Well, you ARE right, Windows users would be without hope if they actually

          had to install Windows and it was not pre-installed with all of the drivers working for them.

          But, you have not installed Ubuntu if you think that Windows is easier to install.
          DonnieBoy
          • But, you have not installed Ubuntu...

            OH YES I Have!!!!!!!!!! The LiveCD left me at a command line with no desktop! So re-install with the DVD. Many, many, many questions beyond the Toaster User of Windows. Got it running and then I couldn't upgrade it without having the machine leveled by the upgrade. Tried and failed four times and Tech-Support could not figure it out either. So I went with OpenSuSE and I have been very happy with Linux ever since. Something to be said for a longer release cycle and taking the time to get it right. - And yes I had everything backed up as I take the level of paranoia when it comes to lost data. So I protect it well. Ubuntu proved my caution to be valid.
            The Rifleman
    • There are folks out there who don't have high speed internet access...

      And those folks are the ones who will benefit... I receive questions about Linux from folks who have read about it, but don't have access to internet fast enough to download it and try.

      This way instead of bugging a friend to download, burn and help install it, those folks can try it on their own.

      Frankly, my first experience with Linux came as a result of purchasing SuSE 6.4 from a Best Buy. I'm still here, and I can imagine others will be as well...
      lyndaj70
  • RE: Ubuntu goes with newspaper model in consumer market

    It's a wonderful idea... I like ubuntu. Having an install CD around is always a good thing. I know you can always burn ubuntu yourself but it's easier to keep track of CDs with labels (and I'm too lazy to label my CDs I make with anything more involved than a sharpee). I'd pay a few bucks out of laziness.
    anglf228