Linspire Explains Where OEMs

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-12-07 Print this article Print

Stand"> The most thoughtful letter I got on why PC makers have been so slow in picking up the Linux desktop came from the president of a desktop Linux company, Kevin Carmony of Linspire Inc. "There isnt a single Tier 1 OEM that Linspire isnt in discussions with (and has been for the last few years). I think youd be surprised just how closely [OEMs] do watch desktop Linux and are aware of things. We meet with them often, and [they] all have teams and initiatives in place to get on board if and when the time is right," Carmony said.
And when will that be, I ask?
"You have to realize that companies like Dell, HP, eMachines, etc., are about fulfilling demand, not trying to create it. If youre Dell, and you do 100 percent of your desktop business with Windows and are already in the No. 1 slot, theres not a lot of incentive to invest in creating, marketing, promoting and supporting a new operating system on their computers. They will only do this once the demand is there," Carmony said. Ah, were back to the chicken and the egg. Yes, Dell might not have any reason to offer a real Linux desktop alternative, but what about the No.2 through No. 10 guys? If all a company does is fulfill an existing demand, its in danger of cornering the buggy-whip market just as some guy named Henry Ford works out the kinks of making decent, affordable cars. Of course, as Carmony said of Linspire, "We started marketing Linux to Tier 3 OEMs. These OEMs need a way to compete with the larger computer builders, so they are using Linux to help them undercut prices from Dell, HP and others." Exactly. Im not saying that Gateway, for example, needs to spend a ton of money on marketing Linux and the like. I am saying that the hardware vendors can do themselves, and would-be Linux users, a big favor by at least making desktop Linux more available. Start small and get big. Why not? If its already working for the small OEMs—Linspire has over 350 Tier 3 partners today, so it must already be doing at least decently—why not one of the big guys? They cant stay frightened of Microsoft forever, can they? Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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