The return rate on Linux-powered netbooks may be higher
than that for Windows netbooks, but this isn't necessarily a bad
thing for Linux, according to Linux vendor Canonical.
Canonical, which sponsors the popular
Ubuntu Linux distribution, was responding to figures released last
week by MSI, the maker of the Wind netbook.
In an interview with Laptop Magazine, MSI said its studies
showed its Suse Linux-based ultraportables were returned at a rate
four times higher than Windows-based Wind machines.
That bears out Canonical's experience with netbooks based on
Ubuntu, said Canonical marketing manager Gerry Carr. "We're
seeing similar types of return rates for our machines," Carr told
ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk.
However, such figures shouldn't distract from the fact that
Linux was, in general, proving a great success on netbooks, Carr
"Return rates are higher, but they're not high," he said.
"Return rates are low. That they're higher than with Windows XP,
a technology that has been around for 20 years, is
demonstrated a netbook version of Ubuntu in June, and is now
working with several equipment manufacturers, including Toshiba,
whose Ubuntu-powered, 8.9-inch NB100 is set to reach the UK this
month. Carr emphasised that even if some users have been
disappointed, the fact remains that low-cost ultraportables such as
Asus's Eee PC have managed for the first time to bring Linux to a
wide user base. "Some teething problems are to be expected with a
new technology," he said.
In September, Amazon.com said Linux-based netbooks were among
the top-selling laptops. During the month of August, 12 of the
best-selling netbooks were based on Linux, six supported Windows XP
and two supported Vista, Amazon told ZDNet.com.au's sister site,
ZDNet.com. Linux buyers seemed to be motivated by lower prices
compared with Windows-based netbooks, Amazon said.
Some users seem to buy Linux-based netbooks without fully
realising what they're buying, Carr said. "Some people are
misbuying, and then they send it back because it's not Windows,"
he said. "What would be more worrying would be if they simply
didn't like it for itself; if they used it and it didn't work.
But that doesn't seem to be the case."
In MSI's particular case, the Wind's Suse Linux implementation
has been criticised for serious shortcomings, such as problems
connecting to wireless networks, Carr noted.