The Wal-Mart chain has now officially ended sales of the Green gPC Linux systems in its stores.
That pretty much says it all really. A $200 PC with pretty much everything you need already included and installed (except, and this might have been the critical mistake, a monitor) on it for nothing is not what your standard shopper at Wal-Mart who's looking for a new PC wants.
"This really wasn't what our customers were looking for," said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.
However, there is some good news:
Paul Kim, brand manager for Everex, said selling the gPC online was "significantly more effective" than selling it in stores.
Wal-Mart sold out the in-store gPC inventory but decided not to restock, O'Brien said. The company does not reveal sales figures for individual items.
I'm not sure what the take away from this announcement is. I suspect that there will be countless conspiracy theories whizzing across the net over the next few days citing some kind of Microsoft involvement behind this. My take is that the lack of a monitor might have had something to do with the fact that these systems weren't what customers want, but maybe I'm cutting Linux too much slack there. I'm also pretty sure that the profit margins on these units were razor thin too.
Maybe the bottom line here is that despite what the claims of some in the Linux community, this just goes to show that customers would rather pay for Windows than have Linux for free. Maybe people are happy to pay a $100 for an OS that they've seen or use at work and that their friends who have PCs also use. Maybe this is why piracy rates for Windows are so high despite there being a free alternative. Maybe the results of this experiment actually do prove that Linux just isn't ready to conquer the desktop.
That's a shame, because for the needs of someone buying a $200 PC, the gOS is probably all the OS that these customers needed.
Does this now put the brakes on Linux-based PCs? Does this mean that the $200 was a short-lived phenomenon? Has this killed consumer-oriented Linux PCs?
Vista-based variants of this system continue to be sold by Wal-Mart.