Yes, it’s apparently another netbook today on OSNews. Netbooks were supposed to become the major foot in the door, but as soon as Microsoft got off its fat bum and started offering Windows XP to netbook OEMs, the popularity among OEMs of Linux has dwindled; when the netbook surge started, Linux was the operating system of choice among OEMs, but now, the Windows version comes first, and the Linux version later – if at all. Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin basically tells OEMs: “Yer doing it wrong“.
Zemlin believes that current netbook manufacturers are not realising the full potential of Linux on netbooks, because they apply the same strategy to Linux as they do to Windows, which he deems as an outdated business model. He claims this has given Microsoft time to catch up to Linux on netbooks (and Microsoft now claims that 80-90% of netbooks are sold with Windows XP).
Zemlin urges netbook makers to create additional value for Linux netbooks, instead of parroting the traditional model of “create operating system, go to vendor, ask them to pay X amount per device, have them ship with device”. “While all that’s great, we can do a lot better,” Zemlin added.
He wants manufacturers to take a look at the business model of telcos. At the same time, operating system vendors should work to do a “better job of providing crisp web APIs the OEMs can use to enable these telco-like models”. He explained:
It’s not their [OEMs’] traditional bread and butter: they are great at manufacturing, building a better, faster widget – but that’s not the game. Learn from Nokia – meld a kick ass, industrial design with customized software experience and have it subsidized by an alternative business model, be that subsidy or services offering, movies and entertainment – that’s a better way to skin this cat.
In at least the UK and The Netherlands, mobile providers are already subsidising netbook sales through 3G contracts on a grand scale. I get dead-tree spam concerning their efforts a few times a week, but sadly, can’t really tell whether or not their efforts are successful. I can, sadly enough, confirm that all these offers are built around Windows.
I sure hope that Zemlin’s ideas will be successful. We all want more diversity in the computing market, and it would be a bad thing if Linux missed the window of opportunity offered by netbooks, only to have that market move to the familiar status-quo of Microsoft dominance.