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Author Topic: Face it folks, Linux is insignificant  (Read 6183 times)
GrannyGeek
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« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2007, 07:17:19 pm »

Since you're talking 2010 before you'd seriously embark on your plan, you'll have some real-world experience on which to base your decision. By that I mean you'll have seen whether the Acer eee is successful in the market place, and specifically whether the *Linux* version of the Acer eee is successful. The eee will be available with Windows XP soon. That should give you some idea of whether the public is interested in a low-cost Linux machine. If the Acer eee is a flop, well, there's your answer. The niche you think you see may not exist.

Also, the Everex gPC desktop will also have a track record by then. With 600 Walmarts planning to tesk-market these machines, this will be a pretty good test of whether the computer-illiterate public is enticed by a low-cost Linux computer being sold at a retail store.

My own opinion is that you'll never compete with the big boys on price. They can cut deals with hardware and software suppliers; you, or whoever supplies you, cannot. To give you an example--
Today I was in Walmart and took a brief look at the computer section. They were selling an Acer laptop with 14" screen, 80 gig drive, 512 megs RAM, the usual other hardware, and Vista Home Basic for $400. This was the everyday price, not a sale price. So the price was the same as the Acer eee. The average buyer will prefer Windows to Linux simply because they've heard of Windows. And don't discount that people want to play games their friends may have, want to use software they see advertised or that their friends have or they use at work. In my opinion, with competition like that, the Acer eee's selling point is not the price, it's the weight. The price of laptops goes up as the weight goes down. So a 2-pound $400 laptop is very attractive to anyone who has to carry around a laptop, whether for traveling or sipping coffee at a wifi cafe or taking to class or the library.

I'm trying to emphasize that regardless of what Linux promoters say, Linux computers do NOT cost less than Windows computers. You can always find a Windows computer at the same price point, and often with better specs. That's true with the $400 laptop and the $200 desktop. I have a cyber friend who is shopping for a high-end Linux laptop. He was surprised to find that what I just said is true for the high end, too.

Indeed, you have to be prepared to support the machines you sell. Don't expect the buyers to go to a class or read a manual. They're going to point and click and if it doesn't work, you'll get a call. Also, you'd have to provide some of that support for free. That's what the big boys do, and no buyer is going to want to pay extra for support from the get-go. It would be great if you could have something like the Genius Bar Apple has in its stores.

Can they mess up their machines? Sure. Any computer can be messed up, and if they know the root password, they can totally wreck their Linux installation. But you can't very well sell a computer that the buyer can't administer.

Everything has to "just work." Sound, networking, wifi, printing, Flash, PDFs, playing DVDs, playing MP3s and Windows Media files, QuickTime. It's a tall order.

By 2010, all this may be automatic with Linux. It's so much easier now than it was a few years ago, and progress will continue. If things go the way we hope and the Acer eee and gPC are the start of a trend, your dream should be achievable.
--GrannyGeek
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2007, 07:44:32 pm »

I have two desktops and one laptop. I'd hate to be without a desktop, but if I could have only one, it would be a laptop.

You guys are missing one very important point--with a laptop you can use the computer anywhere in the house. Maybe this is covered under "portability," but people think of portability in relation to business use, especially travel. But how on earth could anyone not see the importance of being able to use your computer *anywhere*--living room, bedroom, kitchen, patio, Starbucks? I never take my laptop on business travel. I rarely take it from the house. But I use it for many hours every day as I sit in my upholstered rocking chair in the living room with my feet up while I do my browsing, e-mail, and forums and watch TV. NO WAY would I want to be isolated and tied to my home office desk.

Another point about laptops--
I can take it to my mother's and show her digital photos stored on my computer. The days of printed photos are coming to an end. It makes no sense to print out ordinary snapshots and a lot of sense to view photos on your computer. We all have family members without a computer, so taking your laptop to their house enables you to share photos with them.

The price difference between a desktop and a laptop with comparable hardware is shrinking fast. It's true that laptops are less upgradeable and more expensive to repair. I doubt that they are *much* less reliable. If you have a lot of keyboarding to do and don't like the laptop keyboard, just put the laptop on a table or desk and attach a USB keyboard. Problem solved. As for battery life, just plug the darn thing into an outlet when you use it! Who says you have to use it on battery?

I certainly don't see the desktop/laptop question as either/or. But if you use a computer for work and for fun, how can you do without portability???

When my 4-1/2-year-old Toshiba developed a fatal illness in August, I bought a new laptop the very next day. A laptop is indispensable to me. I'd live on bread and water for a month before I'd do without a laptop.
--GrannyGeek
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The Headacher
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« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2007, 11:49:28 pm »

I'd just like to point out it's the ASUS eee, not Acer. A friend of mine often confuses these 2 brands as well. I suppose it's because both have 4 letters and start with an A...
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tomh38
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« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2007, 01:52:10 am »

GrannyGeek
Quote
But if you use a computer for work and for fun, how can you do without portability???

It's easy.  I walk to where my computer is, I sit down, I use it.

Also, with a laptop, if I have to plug it into the wall, plug in a USB keyboard (and a separate mouse since I hate those touchpad things), then there I am sitting in my easy chair tangled in wires.  Might as well go to my computer when I want to use my computer, and take a nice unpowered wireless book to my easy chair.

Living room, bedroom, kitchen, patio ... no thanks, don't want or need it in any of those places.  As for Starbucks ... don't even get me started.

I'd rather go without a computer completely than just eat bread and only drink water, whether for a week, a month, or the rest of my life.  I really like using my computer, but good food is more important to me.

I know lots of  people who prefer laptops to desktops; that's fine for them, I have no problem with it.  They're just not for me.
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"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds, April 1991
Freston
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« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2007, 11:35:01 am »

Sorry, long post

The whole 'competing on price' thing doesn't really strike me as a working strategy for laptops anymore. I've found a couple of brands that can be shipped without an OEM version of an alternative OS, but these tend to be high end machines. Starting to talk at ~ €800 they are not really price fighters. And even the cheapest ones ship for +€600.
That is reasonably priced perhaps, but even converting the low end OEM machines to Linux without bothering about refunds and such will end up with cheaper machines. By the way, I found that is how many of those Internet stores selling Linux machines do it. Just peal away the sticker with the license code.

This may change, perhaps in the foreseeable future even. After the Nelie Kroes EU commission on bundling soft- and hardware and the initiatives of some (eh.. whatchacallid) parliamentarians?? in the Netherlands it may become law that machines can be bought without OS. That may affect pre-installed Linux machines as well, but that's neither here nor there... and not a fact yet. They are now in the stage of planning to ask questions about it :-S

The trouble is of course, as was rightfully pointed out above, that the Big Boys can negotiate much better deals and thus sell a lot cheaper. Whereas a small store may need to join some 'collective acquisition initiative' of small stores just to be able to buy machines.

I think the best bet is to watch and wait what happens at Walmart. Or! Take a really different route all together. Those mini PC's _are_ interesting. It's a different audience than I had in mind, and perhaps a bigger risk. But it may be easier to negotiate attractive deals, because these manufacturers tend to be smaller and are still striving to establish their name in a crowded and highly competitive market (I've been reading, can you tell? :-p). Also, some are sympathetic to FOSS. Gives ya something in common ;-)

But on the other hand they'll have small margins on their product, so there is probably not a lot of room to negotiate price.



Recapitulating:
Low end lappies tend to be crap. And even without an OEM version and with Linux installed it's very difficult to compete on price with the Big Boys.
Desktops are another matter, as they can be home made... as cheap or expensive  as one might desire. There is more margin there.
Mini PC's are interesting, but are they interesting enough to be competitive?
Tech support still unsorted. I saw some good examples of how others do it though.
Rent. The location I have in mind has rents at ~ €17,000 to €22,000 per year. That's a years gross income for a teacher. But it's a very good location :-p

Well, in order to reach something resembling a conclusion after this (to long) post, I know all sorts of reasons why an initiative like this shouldn't work. But I'm not ready to let it go just yet. Thanks for the input guys and galls. It's really good to hear from people with a different perspective on the matter. I appreciate it!

Quote from: GrannyGeek
Today I was in Walmart and took a brief look at the computer section. They were selling an Acer laptop with 14" screen, 80 gig drive, 512 megs RAM, the usual other hardware, and Vista Home Basic for $400.
Machines like that they sometimes give out for free when you take a 2 year deal with a phone network or Internet provider. Source (in Dutch, but the main parts are readable 1.6Ghz Celeron processor. Running that OS on those specs should be a crime.... I've got a machine like that (1.5Ghz Celeron, 512MB, 40GB drive) and the only thing (other than Slack) that gets good performance out of it is .... *drumroll* .... Vector!


*sigh*


Those machines should be shipping with Vector. Not that state_of _the_art and we'll_get_it_right_in_the_third_release other OS. You see? Now we're back in the beginning. Those lappies can be converted into preforming pieces of machinery. Someone should sell those things, in a physical store, and with a stable, fast and secure OS. If that catches on, Linux is no longer insignificant (and just when you thought I was derailing, I came back to the OP :-p). Granted, it's difficult and involves a lot of risk. It may even be a Bad Idea(TM). But the thought is luring...
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bigpaws
Vectorian
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Posts: 1846


« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2007, 03:37:46 pm »

There is alot of risk involved. I have my own computer support business
which is support based, not hardware. The reasons are stated already. I will only
build a high end machine for special needs, be it a gaming machine, server
or CAD system. This area price is not thought of but performance is.

When a current or potential customer contacts me I refer them to another
vendor due to price, not service. They come to me for service for the simple
fact I keep them running in the fashion that they want, in their environment.

My thoughts are if you can get market penetration it may then be a good thing.

If this is what you wish to do stick with, and minimize your potential loses where
you can.

Good Luck,

Bigpaws
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GrannyGeek
Packager
Vectorian
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Posts: 2567


« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2007, 08:37:09 pm »

I'd just like to point out it's the ASUS eee, not Acer. A friend of mine often confuses these 2 brands as well. I suppose it's because both have 4 letters and start with an A...

You're right! I know ASUS and Acer aren't the same. I guess I just had Acer in my mind (now the No. 3 computer maker) and never noticed the eee is from ASUS, not Acer.

I was hoping this low-cost laptop would be Linux's vehicle into the masses, but today I saw this:
ASUS Unites the Breakthrough Eee PC with Microsoft Windows
( http://eeepc.asus.com/en/news10192007.htm )

I was hoping Linux would have a longer window of opportunity with this.
--GrannyGeek
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Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
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