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12.04.10

It’s Not About Linux on the ‘Desktop’

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red chair

Summary: As more desks are being emptied or vacated owing to portability, it is portable devices that GNU/Linux needs to target; software patents are Apple’s and Microsoft’s only viable response

PHONES (featurephones or smartphones) are a growth area which is further complemented by mobile devices like tablets. This comes at the expense of the so-called ‘desktop’ to a certain extent. Microsoft knows this and even admits this sometimes. Vista 7 is not suitable for such devices and Microsoft is unable to make Vista Phony 7 [sic] stick (the company needs it for form factors like tablets). In such a situation Microsoft can just give up, acquire a winning team, or try again to leapfrog the competition with a new product. But instead, Microsoft is extorting for products it does not make to pay up, in order to serve as a sort of corporate welfare. A mobile technology news site says in the headline that “Microsoft sees revenue potential in smartphone-related patents” and this claim sometimes comes from Microsoft’s own mouth. Rupert Murdoch’s AllThingsD has another opinion: “Microsoft’s top lawyer, Brad Smith, said the company’s road to success in mobile isn’t based solely on its Windows Phone 7 operating system. According to AllThingsD, Smith said the company also believes it can make money from its vast pool of smartphone-related patents. However, he conceded that the money Microsoft could make per phone from patents isn’t as much as it could get via sales of phones running Microsoft software.”

According to news that we pinned down yesterday, most the phones sold in China are now running Linux (Android) and despite its loyalty to client like Microsoft, the Gartner Group acknowledges that Microsoft’s bread and butter gradually recede [1, 2, 3]. “Tablets putting a drag on PC sales” is one way of putting it and clearly enough Gartner is trying to bury its false predictions (there are many):

  • Gartner finds the reasons it was wrong

    TABLET AND SMARTPHONE sales are thought to be behind lower than expected growth in PC shipments, according to Gartner.

    The IT market research firm is now expecting a 14.3 per cent increase in PC shipments in 2010 over 2009, down from a prediction it made in September that the year would see 17.9 per cent growth. Gartner views tablet and smartphone sales as reasons for that and the company expects tablets to grab 10 per cent of the PC market by 2014.

A few hours ago we showed that Apple — like Microsoft — resorted to using software patents against mobile Linux, which is self explanatory.

  • The bad guys are worried – did we win?

    I’ve said this before but if you feel the best way to promote your product is to attack the opposition you have already lost. Fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a well known tactic and exists not only in the software world. Free software supporters have been quoting Ghandi’s “ignore, ridicule, fight, win” quote for a long time. By launching these attacks both Microsoft and Jobs appear to have belied their fear of the rival product and aligned themselves with step 3 of that process. Despite the rhetoric that came from Redmond and Apple supporters following these stories, the truth is that both OpenOffice.org and Android have made big enough dents in their markets to wake up the sleeping giant monopolists.

The latter post from Ryan Cartwright is as optimistic as it ought to be. Linux is in many ways winning, but it is not known as “Linux”. Just as “Linux” stole GNU’s thunder, brand names like Android and Ubuntu are now stealing Linux’ thunder. Articles by Joab Jackson and others make it clear that Microsoft is now focused on patents, not products.

The software giant filed a patent yesterday, in which it proposes to deploy a layer of shape-memory plastic that would change the surface of the screen when hit with different wavelengths of ultraviolet light.

Microsoft wishes to become a so-called “licensing company” (euphemism for patent taxation centre) because it cannot grow past the desktop, which seems like a shrinking market. GNU/Linux need not aspire to take over the desktop if the desktop itself (as we know it today) is quickly changing with advances in nano-technology.

Paul Grim explained a month ago “Why Apple can’t beat Android” either:

For the better part of 20 years, Mac lovers fumed in frustration as Apple languished in sub-5% PC market share territory. Wintel dominated. Big, ugly, buggy, clunky, and everywhere. It seemed as if graphic designers were the only people stubbornly refusing to admit defeat and join the rest of the planet in using Windows.

Gerard Braad, an amicable mobile Linux developer who was recently elected for Fedora leadership, says that “Oracle and #TheSteve [Job] couldn’t keep the promise yet, but Henri Gomez made [...] #OpenJDK on #OSX http://blog.hgomez.net/?p=670″

On the desktop too GNU/Linux is said to have greater market share than Apple’s (see Ballmer’s slide below). The world is bigger than the United States, but last week a lot of Web sites were referencing the bunk from Net Applications.

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linuxf

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A Single Comment

  1. twitter said,

    December 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Gravatar

    People deserve freedom with all of their computing. “The desktop” is no longer central but it is a good platform for free software advocates and a base for technical development. GNU/Linux runs on most hardware and there is little difference between a desktop and a palmtop anymore. The real problems are perception and telcos.

    Vista/Windows 7 are huge failures, so now is the best time to rip control of desktop computing out of Microsoft’s hands. Practically, “the desktop” is already liberated because gnu/linux runs the vast majority of desktop hardware. What’s lacking on the desktop is people’s understanding of why software freedom matters and how easy it is to obtain it. Microsoft depends on a vast network of service techs who would be happy to dump Microsoft if their customers asked for gnu/linux. Most tech people have already done so for themselves and only keep that other OS around because they think their customers need it, That illusion won’t last long. If we don’t grasp “the desktop” now, Microsoft might make Windows something that users can stand to use and regain their power over vendors and OEMs.

    Telcos and ISPs are almost as big a threat to software freedom as software patents are. When people try to have their software freedom with “smart phones”, telcos brick the device. ISPs are now openly discriminating against their competitors and big publishers like Microsoft are pushing all sorts of laws to allow them to disconnect people at will. The involvement of ATT in Microsoft’s Foundem scam against Google is a big clue, but the “last mile problem” has been with us for a long time. ISPs should be regulated in a way that gives people their freedom but the best hope for real freedom in the future lies in open spectrum, where bandwith is unlimited and people can offer the services they want.

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