hi <br><br><div><span class="gmail_quote">On 10/5/07, <b class="gmail_sendername">Rick Moen</b> <<a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>> wrote:</span><blockquote class="gmail_quote" style="border-left: 1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); margin: 0pt 0pt 0pt 0.8ex; padding-left: 1ex;">
Quoting Christian Einfeldt (<a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>):<br><br>> This is great. We have reached a minor digital tipping point today, as<br>> Larry Magid covered the state of free open source software on Dell computers
<br>> in the New York Times today.<br><br>I'm a little skeptical, having seen Dell do this hat trick before,<br>2000-ish.<br></blockquote></div><br>Rick raises some really good points here, all of which add up to one conclusion, IMHO: despite the hype about Dell's IdeaStorm website; and despite the hype on Digg and /. and elsewhere about Dells with Ubuntu, at the end of the day, Dell will continue to do exactly what Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen predicted they would do: focus on its sustaining business model (Microsoft Windows) while testing FOSS in niche markets, as Tom Haddon just pointed out.
<br><br>Christensen's work is absolutely fascinating because, IMHO, like Darwin for biology, Christensen has described some basic market mechanism which, followed to their conclusion, lead me (at least) to conclude that we are going to see some major market upheaval as a result of GNU Linux entering the market.
<br><br>As an example, Christensen writes that in addition to killing RCA with its handheld radios in the 1960s, Sony killed RCA's distribution network and sent that traffic over to Macy's, which was the only major retailer that carried Sony's handheld transistor radios.
<br><br>I firmly believe that no only will FOSS disrupt Microsoft, it will also shift billions of dollars away from Microsoft's distribution network to other venues for selling software: Amazon and Google! I believe that eventually Google's Docs & Spreadsheets (GDS) will create a symetry for FOSS apps that run locally. Lots of people will always like to have the option of keeping their data stored locally, but in the meantime (not this year or next, but maybe the year after that) GDS will suck enough traffic away from Microsoft Office that OOo will become viable for many consumers. It will take longer to challenge Microsoft Office in the enterprise space, but eventually SaaS (Software as a Service) will also erode Microsoft's dominance there.
<br><br>At some point, someone like Linspire or Amazon, or maybe a more clever marketing group, is going to commercialize the Debian pool, and people will flock there by the hundreds of millions to get software. As bandwidth becomes no problem, proprietary vendors will be elbowing each other for front page space on a Linspire or Amazon page that offers a decent commercialization of the Debian pool. They will pay big money for prominent placement, just as they now pay for placement in brick-and-mortar stores like CompUSA.
<br><br>In the meantime, CompUSA and Dell will continue to ignore FOSS as Rick has pointed out, until it is too late. In the meantime, some other smaller vendor like Zareason or one of Linspire's partrners will have made partnership agreements with Amazon or Linspire, and they will grow rapidly.
<br><br>The funny thing about disruptive innovations like Sony, Google and Microsoft Windows is that those innovations are ignored by the market leaders until it is too late and a new "value chain" (sellers and buyers) has formed around the disruptive innovation. But since the market leader has no business proposition for monetizing the disruptive innovation, the market leader is forced to sit out the transition to the new innovation and is forced instead to continue doing the same thing that made it big in the first place.
<br><br>It is a well-known fact that Microsoft is as bound by its install base as the install base is bound by Microsoft. Neither side can move away from the relationship. They are all locked by golden handcuffs. Except that as the new value chain grows, the gold patina starts to wear thin.
<br><br>In his books, Christensen gives example after example of this process. This is one of the reasons that I am actually not all that bothered by the Microsoft - Novell - Xandros - Linspire deals. I wish that some of the details had been different in many of those deals, but FOSS is eventually going to eat Microsoft's lunch, and FOSS vendors need to be able to compete with Microsoft, which means getting close to them.
<br><br>So, as Tom Haddon points out, Dell will try to grow its Ubuntu offerings in markets where there is currently no or little traffic. In the meantime, IMHO, this Ubuntu offering is a placeholder. It's Dell's attempt to learn how to bring FOSS to market.