Following up on my previous post, and in answer to the recent piece by our own Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on the failure of desktop Linux, I would like to make a modest proposal.
An all-in Linux laptop.
That is you sell a laptop with a Linux, a user interface, and all the applications you need to happen, pre-installed and ready to go. You click the on switch and it works.
This is not hard to do. Ubuntu, GNOME, and Open Office are all easy to get. Add some nifty utilities, WiFi capability, networking, and you've got a $500 laptop with no additional software necessary.
Once a user gets a Windows-like interface in front of them, they can drive the car. And that's what most people want to do, drive the car. They don't want to go under the hood. They don't want to take the air conditioner apart. They don't even want to crawl under the seat for a fast food wrapper. They want to drive the car.
So give people a car they can drive. Everything you need, pre-installed. One rock bottom price, a fraction of what a Windows box would cost. A big screen, maybe toughened like those Panasonic ToughBooks. With real support from a retail chain like BestBuy and its Geek Squad.
What would it take to get from here to there? Some deals, some risk-taking, a manufacturer. But it could be done. It's really just a high-end variation on the One Laptop Per Child idea.
If you could outfit your troops with $500 laptops and never worry about software costs, would you do it? Not One Laptop Per Child, but One Laptop Per Salesman. You're already doing it. What if you could do it for one-third what you're paying now.
That's a market opportunity. Michael Dell, you listening?