Feeds

Concerted Linux-netbook effort needed to beat Microsoft

Zemlin: skin this cat with services

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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market is not realizing its full potential, because those making the machines - PC manufactures - are employing an outdated business model.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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
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 and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.