300K Installations of Android per Day

That is an amazing number but it is still not enough. That other OS does about 1000K through their OEM and retail channels. This means that, although GNU/Linux is growing quite rapidly, that other OS is as well with the production of personal computers of all kinds. Desktop and notebook shipments with GNU/Linux pale in comparison, perhaps 100K per day. The conversion of older machines remains an important channel for growth of GNU/Linux on the desktop. We know from web stats that XP machines are disappearing at the rate of about 400K per day. About 300K are being scrapped and 100K are being put to other use, perhaps as some kind of non-browsing server or GNU/Linux desktops. This means we have to redouble our efforts to adopt GNU/Linux if it is to take a major share on the same order as that other OS. 500K per day increase in GNU/Linux machines is not there yet.

I believe that 2010 saw a lot of conversion of machines from XP and that will continue for a year or two. By then OEM production will have expanded and the Android phenomenon will have grown mature as well. In spite of Wintel trying to upsell PCs, ARM with GNU/Linux will work very well on thick clients and thin clients which will take an increasing share. What the result will be is unclear but as GNU/Linux grows its share, acceptance will increase just because “it’s out there” will apply. So far, consumers have readily accepted ARM and businesses are about to accept ARM. Once ARM on smart-thingies is widespread, ARM on the desktop will be acceptable/familiar to a much wider audience.

Years ago, the “tipping point” for GNU/Linux was discussed as a possibility. We could see the tipping point in 2011 if Android keeps growing and ARM begins to eat into thin clients, desktops, tablets and notebooks. All the ducks are in a row. The final blow to Wintel will be the acceptance of GNU/Linux in all OEM and retail channels. As everyone becomes more web-centric in thinking and computing, the OS becomes less important as an environment and the application becomes more important. Costs will determine the choice of client platform. GNU/Linux will win that competition. The OEMs and retailers who now sell GNU/Linux at a premium will be able to grow share by offering lower costs. There is no other way for them to prosper as margins continually tighten. At the moment, many OEMs are trying to be Apple. That can work in some markets but globally, that does not work. There is a huge market for small cheap computers and someone will supply it.

UPDATE The Register has a take on this renewal of competition in IT: see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/13/google_revives_network_computer_again/

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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