Here’s some interesting commentary from Cathy Malmrose of ZAreason.com, a small supplier of PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. I asked Cathy if Dell’s move into the Ubuntu market would help or hurt ZAreason’s business.
Sure, I gave her a loaded softball question. Naturally, she thinks Dell promoting Ubuntu is a win-win for the Linux industry and ZAreason. However, take a closer look at what she had to say and you’ll see some interesting perspective. Cathy notes that there might be multiple market niches for Ubuntu desktop systems over the long haul.
In her comments, posted here, Cathy indicates that “We don’t necessarily compete with Dell because we are focused more on:
1. the long-time Linux advocates (they send us valuable feedback on our systems, how they have tweaked their systems),
2. areas other than the US (the US Dept of Commerce is very helpful to exporters), and
3. the Maker Faire crowd, ie people who want to mess with their hardware and still be covered under warranty.”
I think Cathy may have a point. I don’t fit any of the three market segments that she describes. I’m more of an early adopter rather than a long-time Linux advocate. So my first Ubuntu PC purchase involves a brand I already know: Dell. I suppose there are thousands of other people just like me. And thousands more who fit into the three niches that Cathy described.
But over the long haul, I think Cathy’s three Ubuntu niches will likely resemble today’s white box Windows industry — where resellers purchase industry standard components and then put their own brands on the systems.