A theme of mine for a few years has been that the last bulwark protecting the Wintel monopoly from GNU/Linux was lack of retail shelf-space. That bulwark has crumbled in China and several other Asian nations. This week, retail shelves will be liberated in India, thanks to Dell and Canonical getting together to produce a bunch of notebooks preloaded with Ubuntu GNU/Linux.
“Dell laptops pre-loaded with Ubuntu will be sold in 850 retail outlets in India”.
“The choice of form factor reflects the demand for mobile computing in India, where Dell, already the number one manufacturer, is growing fast. Ubuntu provides a legal, full-featured and flexible alternative to proprietary software, with a range of popular applications included by default. And thanks to the Ubuntu Software Centre, it offers easy access to hundreds more, from business productivity and scientific research to games and social media.”
It’s hard to estimate the numbers of new GNU/Linux PCs coming to market as a result of this move but even a few per day at 850 stores is pushing one million. Assuming the price is much lower than Wintel and price matters, there could be many more. This single move could multiply the units shipped with GNU/Linux globally as Mark Shuttleworth predicted. I assume that Dell did this as a result of experience with stores shipping GNU/Linux in China last year. That must have affected the bottom line enough to make it feasible in India. The world has entered the “end days” of monopoly. If competitors of Dell copy this move we could eventually see the day when that other OS has only a fraction of retail shelf-space. If results from China and India are good, that will happen sooner rather than later.
Since GNU/Linux sells itself, there will be a multiplier from the efforts of Dell and Canonical. The more units in the hands of consumers the greater the demand for GNU/Linux to all retailers and OEMs. If “8″ is pushed on OEMs and retailers, expect that leverage to bear heavily in 2012/2013. The world of IT could be quite different by Q4. In its last quarterly report to the SEC, Dell reported 52% of revenue comes from outside USA, the home of Wintel. Growth in China was 9%. How much of that was from selling GNU/Linux?