More news about MSI’s netbook returns. Canonical’s marketing manager confirms that return rates of Linux-based netbooks are very high. Moreover, LaptopMag.com says, “we learned that MSI’s research extends beyond its own products and that Linux’s future on the netbook is bleak.”
The initial comments to that article are not too surprising if you read enough articles about open source adoption: a claim of FUD, and “it works for me” type stuff. It’s not as if MSI and Canonical want failure, so the FUD claim is bullshit. And it really doesn’t matter how easy Ubuntu or DistroXYZ is to install or set up, it’s how easy it is to use — for average users, not for people who’ve bothered to download and burn 100 or more ISOs and install them. Face it, most people are not in that camp. They don’t want to be in that camp.
Carr touches on this. While claiming that most buyers are making purchases unaware that they’re getting Linux rather than Windows, he admits, “…they imagine to find something like a Microsoft desktop, but they see a brown Ubuntu version. They are unwilling to learn it and they were expecting to have Windows.”
I think they’re expecting a more Windows-like experience. Something that works in a manner they’re already accustomed. Not having to learn something new just to do a few simple things. After all, netbooks should be very simple and user-friendly computers.
Ironically, a lot of the heat Ubuntu in particular has taken from the Linux community (at least the more savvy corners of it) has been from being too much like Windows. Dumbed down. Most Windows users still find it quite foreign because it’s not too much like Windows at all. It requires a learning curve, something most users will resent because they already understand something else.
You can argue all you want about the virtues of different ways of doing things. What matters in the final analysis is what people actually want. Ignore that, and your market share never grows. Yet that’s where Linux advocacy is right now — which is ironic because it’s the Linux advocates who whine that Microsoft “forces” things on its users. Talk about FUD. Here’s a multi-billion dollar company that continues to adapt to market place changes by giving consumers what they want, whether Microsoft develops it in-house, farms it out, or purchases a smaller and more innovative firm.
I wrote earlier this summer that the netbooks were not going to be a “foot in the door” for Linux desktop adoption and some LXers gave me a bit of shit about that. Every returned Linux notebook is proof, and every one of them is being sent back by someone who will probably be even more resistant to trying Linux again.