Linux losing netbook ground

Linux losing netbook ground

Summary: The open source operating system is losing netbook market share, but could find its niche in smaller, Internet-enabled appliances, says Ovum.


Linux is losing ground on the netbook front, but there lies opportunity for it in smaller, dedicated Internet-enabled appliances, said an Ovum analyst.

Laurent Lachal, open source research director at the U.K.-based analyst firm, said in a research note, Linux is not doing as well in terms of market share, compared to when it made its debut on the netbook market.

Lachal said: "After a strong start, Linux netbooks have now been overtaken by Windows netbooks and Linux is lagging increasingly behind in terms of sales."

While the first netbooks came with Linux OSes, manufacturers started finding Windows-based devices more popular, with customers finding they could not get accustomed to the Linux interfaces.

In the Philippines, Asus dropped Linux on all of its Eee PC models in the country because Filipinos were not taking to the Linux OS well.

But Linux could find its market as an OS for smaller, handheld Internet-enabled appliances such as Apple iPod Touch, said Lachal. The iPod Touch is a device similar to the iPhone but without telephony capabilities.

Linux, having had more success and a longer history as a phone OS, may be more suitable for such devices, said Lachal.

He added that Linux-based Android could be better positioned in this segment, with "increasing support" from the developer and ISV (independent software vendor) communities.

Google's recent revenue-sharing announcement for the Android app market is also expected to help raise developer interest in the platform. The increased variety of apps may also make Android more attractive to consumers.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Open Source, Software, Software Development

Victoria Ho

About Victoria Ho

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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  • Linux already won

    Linux forced Microsoft to slash their prices to stay competitive, and yet managed to grow from zero to 10% market share in one year.

    Just as comparison, Firefox took 5 years to reach 20% market share.

    If Microsoft decides to retire XP and sell a crippled version of Windows 7 in the netbook market, we can just expect Linux share to increase in the next year.
  • Potential

    I don't think we've even seen Linux's potential. Can you imagine if they [Dell, HP, etc] start to market a netbook with Linux much like Apple did? Doesn't crash, won't get viruses, lots of great apps, not to mention the cool factor. OSX is doing well, and the OS imho sucks, its like its optimized to run one application at a time. Linux has so many strengths that many people are unaware of. All it takes it educating people and an open mind. Oh snaps, I just killed my whole post.
  • Taking the eye off the ball

    While Microsoft's been focusing on the low end, their core market - desktops and productivity software have finally been caught in the cross-hairs of free software. The momentum Linux and open source is gaining due to the down economy is amazing.
  • less choice in market now

    There is less choice in the market now - many of the netbook hardware variants do not come with Linux at all. Many of the better versions of the Acer Aspire One (here in the UK) that come with Linux are either out of stock or no longer available. Many of the netbook sales are driven through mobile phone and 3G broadband renewal contracts and they do not have a Linux option. e.g. I recently got an EEEPC 904HD 'free' for renewing my 3G contract. it came with windows - I blanked that and put on Fedora. However, even when I said "No thanks" to the Windows License, there was no information on how to recover the license cost or indeed that rejection of the license was not recorded anywhere.
  • Asus appears to be cooperating with MS to limit Linux

    All around the world, people who want to buy Linux systems are finding them to be unavailable in practice, even when they are available in theory.

    Meanwhile, the tech press keeps referencing MSI's bungled Linux netbook offering, while ignoring Dell's success with Linux netbooks (30% of netbook sales).

    Asus started the ball with the EeePC 701 -- but they explicitly intended it as a "toy" laptop for housewives and children. . Their latest "Top" model is Windows-only. Asus clearly is not comfortable with providing Linux as an OS option equal to Windows. The question is not how interested users in buying well-implemented Linux systems, but how interested certain large corporations are interested in selling them.