Subject: OEM Desktop Market (was Ximian ...)
From: Tom Hull <>
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2002 13:14:40 -0600

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> Tom Lord <> writes:
> > Are you suggesting that the way for FSBs to "win the (individual
> > consumer) desktop" is (simply and only) to get OEM contracts for
> > pre-loaded systems?
> No.  An OEM contract is probably necessary to win desktop market share
> (unless, perhaps, the free desktop is clearly significantly better)
> but it is not sufficient.  The free desktop has to be about as easy to
> use as the proprietary alternatives, and there has to be a significant
> number of available consumer applications, and those applications must
> be able to share data with applications running on existing desktop
> systems with significant market share.  I would say that none of those
> things are true of the free desktops today, although of course matters
> are steadily improving.

True enough, but the biggest barrier against Linux in the retail desktop
market is consensus commitment locked into supporting Windows. Apple may
still have 10% of the market, and Linux may have as many users, but walk
into any computer retailer and all you'll find is Windows; ask the sales
people questions and all you'll get is Windows; check out their support
and training departments and all you'll get is Windows; look for apps,
programming support, etc., poll your friends, and almost all of what
you'll find is Windows. These support networks interlock, and together
have a vested interest in perpetuating Windows. That's a tough nut to
crack, and technology doesn't have much to do with it. It's also a tough,
low-margin business, which means you'd have to get big real fast to make
a go of it. Needless to say, this is not he sort of proposition that is
likely to make a VC salivate.

Nonetheless, if there really is a cost advantage to Linux desktops
(computer + Linux < computer + Windows) and a service cost advantage
and network advantages for Linux users to promote more Linux users,
there should be a business opportunity here for one or more OEMs.

 *  Tom Hull * thull at *