Linux - Still chasing that elusive 1% market share
While I was trawling through Net Applications operating system share trend data for the past 24 months, something struck me. June 08 market a big month for Linux because the OS saw the largest increase in market share for the whole 2 year period - a growth of 0.12%.
What we're seeing from the Net Applications data is that over the 24 month period Linux has seem a growth of its market share of 0.36%, but if you look at the past 12 months you see a growth of 0.37% which tells us that Linux growth for the first year of the 2-year period we're looking at here had flat-lined.
0.12% growth in a month is a is a lot for Linux, but when compared to the Vista, XP and Mac OS X it's nothing, not even a drop in the ocean. But Linux is still out there, still being updated and still chasing that magical 1% mark. When is Linux likely to hit that mark? Well, it could be in the next few months or it could be a year or so away, depending on how you draw the trendlines.
Given all the Linux hype that we've seen over the past few months (Dell selling Linux-powered systems, several Ubuntu releases, Eee PCs selling by the shipload) I'm more than a little surprised to find Linux still more than an arm's reach away from 1%.
When I look over at Linux from my position on the OS sidelines, I have to acknowledge that the development communities behind the Linux kernel, the desktops, applications, and the individual distros have done some good work over the past couple of years. But on the other hand, almost all of the issues that I raised back in November of 2006 ("The world just isn’t ready for Linux" and "Why Linux will never go mainstream on the desktop") still plague Linux when it comes to its adoption by mainstream consumers (Yes, yes, I know, there are going to be a lot of Linux die-hards who will be up in my grill for saying that, but I will point at the current market share - 0.8% - as evidence which suggests that I am right.). Linux is a great niche OS, but that doesn't lead to a commanding market share. Looking at Ubuntu's roadmap for 8.10 I think that it's becoming apparent (to Canonical at least) given how heavily the release will focus on a niche market - the subnotebooks.
Coincidentally, my Linux usage pretty much falls into the niche category. I'm happy to put Linux to work in duties such as NAS, file server and maybe loading it onto an old notebook, but the idea of replacing Windows on the desktop with a Linux distro - well I won't say that will never happen, but right now the day I do that is a looooooooong way off. And even for duties such as acting as an OS for a NAS box, I know that it would have been far less hassle to have either used Windows as the OS or bought a ready-made NAS system - for me Linux falls into that "science experiment" category and I've learned to identify anyone who tells me that Linux is "easy" as either deluded, has bought into the superstition, or is a liar. And don't try to fool me with that old "well, every new OS comes with a learning curve" nonsense - the Mac OS is proof that an OS can be powerful yet easy to use. Seriously folks, no one should have to waste time Googling just to figure out how to install an application.