Does Linux lack mass-market appeal?

Wal-Mart has pulled all Linux machines off store shelves, saying they simply weren't what people wanted. Don Reisinger thinks Wal-Mart is stating the obvious.

Doesn't that headline state the obvious? Doesn't the entire world know that Linux simply doesn't offer the kind of mass-market appeal Windows and Mac OS X do? I guess not.

According to the company, Wal-Mart has pulled all Linux-equipped computers off its shelves because it "didn't attract as much customer attention as Windows machines."

"This really wasn't what our customers were looking for," said Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.

Gee, really? To see if its customers wanted Linux, the company stocked the $199 Green gPC in about 600 stores to see if people really wanted to try out a new, far more advanced, operating system. And although the company won't announce sales figures, it looks like its decision to sell Linux-based machines was doomed from the start--in stores.

Ironically, the gPC has performed much better online and Wal-Mart will continue to sell it on its e-commerce page.

Wow. What exactly did Wal-Mart expect? Did its buyers truly believe that a Linux-based machine would do well in a store where the majority of its clientele have never heard of someone named Linus Torvalds?

Suffice it to say, Linux lacks mass-market appeal. And although some Linux apologists may attempt to tell me it doesn't, how can any other argument be proven?

Most surveys put Linux market share at or around one percent and Wal-Mart--the retailer that exemplifies mass-market--won't even consider selling another Linux-based machine in stores to save its life.

Doesn't a "mass-market" product have "mass-market" control over the industry? Wouldn't the masses know more about it? Wouldn't the average person put it up there with the rest of the operating systems when they need to buy their next computer?

The fact of the matter is Linux is a great operating system for those who know what they're doing and want the greatest level of adaptability. But for the average person, who many in the Linux community are simply out of touch with, they don't want anything of the sort. Instead of discussions on GNU, the average person wants to know why they can't use Internet Explorer. Instead of talking about Linus Torvalds, the average person wants to discuss Bill Gates and how he made his fortune. Instead of command line, the average person wants a mouse and keyboard.

And it's that average person who frequents Wal-Mart and is more than willing to buy a computer that offers an operating system they know--Windows. Linux folks can talk until they're blue in the face saying that Linux is safer than Windows and people can do more, but until it's as easy to use as Microsoft's OS, it's in as many offices as Windows and it's on the nightly news, the chances of people switching are nil.

Linux must stay true to its roots and remain the bastion of hope for all the people in the world who want an advanced operating system and the option to modify it as they see fit.

Linux will never be a mass-market product, so why push it?

 

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