2013: A Linux Christmas

Amazon's preliminary Christmas sales information is in and Linux-powered gear was a holiday-season winner.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Sales information for the 2013 holidays shows another successful season for Amazon. That's no surprise. What may surprise some is how often Linux-powered electronics appeared at the top of Amazon buyers' list.

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Of course, Amazon's top tablet sellers were its own house-brand, the Android Linux-powered Kindle Fire HD; the Kindle Fire HDX 7"; and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9". Amazon states that “Cyber Monday holiday shopping weekend was the best ever for Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers.”

A closer look at Amazon tablet sales shows Android powered all of the top ten selling tablets. Other than Amazon's own tablets, the top ten sellers were low-end, sub-$100 7” tablets from Chromo and Tablet Express/Dragon Touch, along with Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3.

Apple? Microsoft? They came in at 11 and 12, respectively, with Apple's low-end 16GB iPad mini and Microsoft's 32GB Surface RT.

For laptops, Chromebooks were big winners. That's also no shocker. Even before the holiday buying season really kicked in, the NPD Group found that Chromebooks "accounted for 21 percent of all [preconfigured] notebook sales, up from negligible share in the prior year, and 8 percent of all computer and tablet sales through November. It's up from one tenth of a percent in 2012."

The Samsung Chromebook; ASUS Transformer Book T100; and Acer Chromebook led the Amazon buyers' list. The Chromebooks are low-end, affordable systems. The ranking of the Windows 8.1-powered Transformer Book is interesting because as far as I can tell, it's the first bestselling “laptop” that is a hybrid laptop/tablet.

Overall, Amazon's top 10 laptop list included four Chromebooks and six Windows systems. Apple? You have to drop all the way to number 15 to find a MacBook.

Then there are the TVs. TVs you ask? Yes. Smart TVs often are powered by Linux.

On Amazon's top-selling TV list we find the Samsung 32” Smart LED HTD, Samsung 40” LED HDTV; 22”, and Samsung Slim LED HDTV. The first two of these are Linux-powered Smart TVs. In fact, almost all Samsung Smart TVs have Linux in their circuits.

Looking more broadly at Amazon's best selling electronics gear we see a lot of Linux. The number-one-selling electronic device is the Google Chromecast, which runs a mix of Android and Chrome OS. It's followed by the Roku 3 streaming media player. This, like the rest of the Roku line, has Linux under the hood.

Without a doubt 2013 is Linux's most successful showing yet in a holiday sales season. Next year, as Linux moves more deeply into low-end laptops, tablets, and consumer electronics, it should do even better.

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