Feeds

Concerted Linux-netbook effort needed to beat Microsoft

Zemlin: skin this cat with services

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

When it comes to Linux netbooks, PC manufacturers should act more like cell-phone makers and telcos by selling customized and subsidized machines with online services.

That's according to Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin who believes the Linux netbook market is not realizing its full potential, because those making the machines - PC manufactures - are employing an outdated business model.

And that's giving Microsoft time to catch up to Linux, raising the prospect that the company simply replicates its domination on laptops and desktops.

"It benefits Microsoft and lets them regroup and get their act together to emulate these models," Zemlin said. He believes the Linux netbook market will get its act together - he'd just like to see it happen faster.

Zemlin will be taking the message to the Open Source in Mobile (OSiM) conference in San Francisco this week. He's expected to use the podium as a way to lobby handset providers and telcos to engage with netbook makers. UK mobile operators are already offering free laptops with wireless contracts.

Linux offers an opportunity for PC makers to deliver customized netbooks to specific markets and types of user because of the open nature of the code, unlike Windows.

However, manufacturers are simply swapping one operating system - Windows - for another - Linux - on the new netbooks, rather than creating additional value around the machines. In some ways that's good, because companies like Hewlett Packard, Dell and Asus have made sure the Linux works on their machines and it's affordable for ordinary users - ordinary users that want Linux, that is.

"While all that's great, we can do a lot better" Zemlin said.

According to Zemlin, OEMs should start working with alternative business models like those of the telcos. Operating system vendors and Linux integrators, meanwhile, should do a better job of providing crisp web APIs the OEMs can use to enable these telco-like models.

"The typical operating system game is: create operating system, go to vendor, ask them to pay X amount per device, have them ship with device," Zemlin told The Reg. "That's not the only game in town."

"No one has really figured out how to bundle a mix of services and web APIs, or have fulfillment mechanisms and set up a business relationship between operating systems makers, device makers and carriers."

"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," he said.

"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."

Zemlin said that subsidizing netbooks would help seed the market and make Linux-powered machines widely available.

Google last week indicated it might subsidize Linux-powered netbooks. According to Zemlin, companies could soon make their money back during the lifetime of any contract sold along with a netbook.

"The thing Google can do on a grand scale is customize software and break business models," Zemlin said. Subsidies would mean more access to computing for more people he added. "It's great for Google, great for Linux and great for open source," he said. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Do Moan! MONSTER 6-day EMAIL OUTAGE hits Domain Monster
Customers freaked out by frightful service
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.