I hate to beat an old drum but, according to Canalys, “The worldwide client PC market grew 18% in Q3 2013, despite desktop and notebook shipments continuing to decline. Tablet PC shipments accounted for 40% of PC shipments in Q3 2013, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments. Tablet domination is set to continue, with Canalys forecasting 285 million units to ship in 2014, growing to 396 million units in 2017.”
M$ took 2% of the growing market for tablets and might grow to 5% according to Canalys. That’s not monopoly. That’s being another competitor. How does it feel, M$? Expect that to continue as your anti-competitive tactics have finally died of natural causes and a few governments suing you.
Not only is this a story about tablets and smartphones either. ChromeOS has taken a few percent share of legacy PC shipments, mostly notebooks and there are some Android/Linux and GNU/Linux PCs shipping. That will only increase as the market explores new possibilities without M$.
The world can and does make its own operating system software and shares the load amongst millions of developers, hundreds of millions of users and hundreds of corporations/organizations. That’s FLOSS in action. No one can make software at lower cost and distribute it at lower cost than FLOSS. The GNU system and the Android system atop the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel is $free for all manufacturers, developers, and users of IT. Millions of developers have written software that works with Linux. In a competitive market free from lock-in FLOSS always wins because everyone has a stake in it and it works for all of us, not just a few. With FLOSS the cost of having software for a computer drops from ~$100 to near $0 as does the cost of upgrading the software because anyone can find and fix bugs and write software to work with FLOSS using open standards.
There is no reason to go back to Wintel or any other monopolized software architecture these days. We can choose *86 CPUs from Intel, AMD, Via, and ARMed CPUs from many different manufacturers and install them on motherboards or SoCs (Sytem on Chip) with the same software working on all. There are many thousands of applications available for */Linux on clients and servers. No longer is there a blessed supply-chain able to charge monopolistic prices. No longer is there a single source of supply for software. We are free at last to use our computers any way we want with the greatest efficiency and ease.
This all started more than a decade ago when the world discovered that servers and other network infrastructure running FLOSS made a lot of sense. High performance computing, networks, virtualization, and embedded systems were gradually taken over by FLOSS, mostly GNU/Linux over the next few years. Then Dell, HP, and many smaller OEMs began to ship GNU/Linux on legacy PCs. The icing on the cake for consumers was the development and pushing of Android/Linux to OEMs particularly of smartphones and tablets, devices without standard keyboards and mouse-pointers. There are few consumers or retailers who remain unaware of FLOSS and its advantages today. All of the FUD, lies, patent-threats etc. of the monopolists has come to naught. The only residue of that is a tiny tax in lieu of litigation for using Linux on some devices. That will pass in a year or two as the world shrugs off software-patents. In the coming year, retailers everywhere will offer consumers FLOSS at last on every kind of PC. It’s too bad that it took so long but the struggle has been worthwhile. FLOSS is the right way to do IT.
Because the monopoly has died nearly a billion more people will be free to use IT for the first time this year instead of just a few million with deep pockets. This is also an end to the digital divide separating rich and poor, North and South, and every region on Earth will have freedom to use IT unfettered by slavery to big corporations.