Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Saturday, October 4, 2008

  • Oct 04 / 2008
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Interview With MSI About Their Netbook

Laptop has a good interview with MSI about their netbook the Wind.

It seems as though brick-and-mortar retailers have been hesitant to stock netbooks or have even ignored them, at least until now. Why do you think that is?
Retailers have been hesitant to bring netbooks into stores because at that moment they were afraid that the netbook category would eat at their notebook sales. They were also only selling the only available product from ASUS, and sales were only okay, and they struggled with return rates, especially of Linux systems. But now it has become more of a trend and these retailers just have to be in this business.

You mention the return rates being high. Has that been the case with the Wind as well?
We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven’t really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don’t know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it’s not what they are used to. They don’t want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.

Four times higher return rate is a concern for retailers. Perhaps they need to put out more demos in the stores. They do not give the rate. If it is tiny, who cares if it is four times higher? MSI still calls it a hit and they do not disparage GNU/Linux in the process. They do say they are looking for a smoother interface for their machines. Cool.

MSI says they sell about 200000 units a month. If half of them are GNU/Linux, we should have a party to celebrate. MSI is one of more than a dozen sellers of netbooks. They are all maxed out by the supply chain. That is millions of GNU/Linux desktops added each month. Is M$ going to support XP forever or is that other OS going to fork? The low-end machines will never run Vista II or III or IV but there will always be a low-end for the next billion PC users at least. Web stats we have seen for September show GNU/Linux stalled but these little netbooks are selling, just not in the USA.

It appears that the netbook craze will push notebook sales of some hot players. This is good for GNU/Linux which thrives on the netbooks.
More here.

“netbooks are dominating the notebook category on Amazon.com. And he’s right about that: the current list of Amazon’s top-selling notebooks is topped by two versions each of the Acer Aspire and Asus Eee; of the top 10, four are from Asus, three from Acer, one from MSI and two from Apple (AAPL).”

According to Acer:

“Acer expects netbook sales to break 1 million worldwide this month and two million for the third quarter.”

A million a month. Two million a quarter? Perhaps that is the back-to-school stuff but it is fun. GNU/LInux usage is probably doubling every year because of this growth. We are likely at 10% already. Could 20% happen next year while M$ twiddles its thumbs?

  • Oct 04 / 2008
  • 2
Linux in Education

I Attended a Meeting the Other Day

It was about how to get the job done in education. Speaker after speaker got up and moaned about class sizes, work load, paper-work, resources, etc. I got up and spoke my mind. Witnesses told me later I did not wander too far off-topic ;-).

All over the world, people are struggling with the same issues, trying to do more with less. We have an archaic IT system that was obsolete the day it was installed. Students wait minutes to log in/boot up/find stuff/get to the lab. We spend a ton of money providing electrical power for our system. If we modernized IT and used thin clients we could save enough money to have far better performance and more seats. Students would not need to come to the lab to do routine, daily tasks, except computer courses. Putting PCs from one lab and more PCs in classrooms we could revolutionized the way we work. We could scan/photograph every artifact and keep them in an organized database so our work would be accumulated and the resources grow year by year. Students and teachers need never hunt again for a document that was full-text indexed. A cluster of PCs would serve as a teacher’s aid in every classroom.

The possibilities are endless. Most issues could be improved if we only spend 1% of our annual budget on IT every few years. The thin clients can last 10. The server 5. Mics, speakers, cameras and scanners last as long as you take care of them. Projectors work for 2 or 3 years and need a new bulb. There is plenty of money available if the folks who decide things just put their mind to it. Instead they are trying to spend more on oil to run the generators for IT than on IT itself. Penny wise and pound foolish. We could burn half as much oil and have ten times the IT. Students spend ten minutes every day going to and from the computer lab where they so outnumber the teacher and can hide that they do time-wasting things instead of processing useful information. In the classroom, a teacher can see every monitor at once and teach students to manage time. Now, we teach students to waste time. I estimate we spend less than 0.1% of our budget on IT, just consumables and things that break. Oil is paid by someone else which puts us off the mark in budgeting. We cannot even form an IT committee for fear that a demand for expenditure might arise.