Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 10, 2012 15:07 UTC (Tue) by anselm
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
This will never be “seriously tried” because of poor ROI: if there are no lock-in then how can you recoup your expenses?
If you're a hardware manufacturer such as HP or Dell you're not interested in lock-in – you're interested in moving boxes. Anything that looks like it might move more boxes is worth looking into. The problem is to get things going in the first place; once you have a system set up, there is no reason why supporting Linux would need to be any more expensive than supporting Windows. (In the long run it may even be cheaper.) »Lock-in« doesn't enter into it from a hardware manufacturer's point of view because nobody is »locked into« generic PC hardware that you can get from dozens of manufacturers. Even if you're into high-end kit you can always get that from any of half a dozen manufacturers. (Apple is an anomaly here because Apple is no longer a computer maker, it's a life style. People are hooked on Apple in a way that they never get hooked on Dell or Asus. However, to a large extent OS X suffers from the same uptake problems as Linux; it just doesn't matter because Apple makes three quarters of its money selling stuff that isn't running OS X in the first place, anyway.)
There is nothing in principle to prevent someone like HP or Dell from offering Linux als a pre-installed alternative on all of its machines other than that the margins you get from moving boxes do not lend themselves to experiments. Microsoft has a nice little positive-feedback loop going that will ensure that as long as 95% of PC buyers buy Windows pre-installed, the hardware makers aren't keen on being the first to sink investment money into something new – and Microsoft is trying to keep things that way: The real reason Linux isn't preinstalled more is that Microsoft provides kickbacks to hardware manufacturers like HP or Dell to »recommend« Windows.
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