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Off-topic: The 'Market Share' Lie

False figures and statistics can demoralise customers and distract developers who serve those customers. By deceiving those who are involved, one can make a myth be seen as a reality. By altering definitions, one can draw any conclusion that is needed. We saw that before. Self-fulfilling prophecies can be the outcome of extreme disinformation. Remember the BBC's comment on Linux?

One lie that continues to live on is based on many confusions, including the mixing of "installed base" and "market share". Not everyone gets Linux preinstalled on a PC. In fact, very few do because Linux is distributed, not sold. There are many other factors to consider and I published an article about it last year (it also appeared at the front page of Slashdot). A nice new Web site, linuxhow2, adds more fuel to this particular debate.

How many Linux users are there in the world? 5,000? 5,000,000? 50,000,000? No one is really sure. Linux users aren't forced to register their operating system with any corporation; Linux users are free to install and use Linux without anyone ever being the wiser. And what about all of the people who don't even realize they're using Linux? Is Linux running your PDA? Smart Phone? GPS? TiVO? Tablet? Router? Wrist watch? Car? Is Linux lurking inside all of your electronic gadgets? Probably not, but it's turning up more and more these days.

[...]

According to our statistics, 96.4% of computer users are running Linux. Whoa! It looks like Linux has completely claimed the market. 0.6% of computer users are running Apple; hmm, but I thought the Apple market share was improving? Oh, and funny enough, 3% of computer users are running Windows. Wait a minute! These stats are completely biased, right? Well, I hope you're getting the point.


We offered a quick glimpse at some of Boycott Novell's statistics last week and our experience was similar. Linux-oriented Web sites or sites that attract Linux users tend to honour privacy, so they rarely divulge statistics and hand them over to firms which produce figures based on Web usage. Who is to benefit from such figures anyway?

Appended below are some articles that give you an ideas of the real ubiquity of Linux and its very fast growth (mind the snippets in particular).

1. "We are implementing Linux in large govt projects across the country"

Infact, Linux is continuously improving its position. This can be proved by an IDC report which says that in June 2006 Microsoft had 68 percent of the marketshare and Linux had 21 percent whereas in 2005, Microsoft had 70 percent and Linux had 11 percent.


2. Asia Pacific Digital Content Creators and Broadcasters Turn to Autodesk's Linux-based Solutions

In its China Linux 2006-2010 Forecast and Analysis report, market research firm IDC estimates that China's Linux market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 34 percent from 2006 to 2010. IDC also forecasts that by 2008, Linux-based personal computers (PCs) will account for more than 9 percent of PC unit shipments in Asia Pacific.


3. Dell leads the Linux workstation market

So about 15% of the workstation market is comprised of Linux machines -- far more than the barely traceable number of Linux desktop computers. Oddly, all workstation manufacturers seem to have grown in chorus. "No one workstation vendor seems to have benefited dramatically more or less with the growth of Linux, though (anecdotally) white boxes would presumably have a much higher penetration of Linux.


4. Survey Says … Linux Desktop Is Ever More Popular

The first thing we can say about the Linux desktop in 2007 is that there are more users than ever. The Linux Foundation 2006 survey had fewer than 10,000 people signing in. This year more than 20,000 Linux desktop users reported in.


5. Desktop OS- Vista vs. Linux

Okay, now lets tie this all back in together. Novell claimed several months back in a video ad that Desktop Linux users accounted for upwards of 30,000,000 different people. That's 30 million. Recent statements made by some Novell representatives indicate that they expect there are upwards of 50,000,000 Desktop Linux users. Microsoft has never contested the number of Desktop Linux users, and if anything the deal Microsoft signed with Novell was tacit agreement that Microsoft believed those numbers to be accurate.


6. Linux Users Base More Than doubled Over Last One Year: Survey

The number of Linux users has more than doubled over the last one year, says a new survey by DesktopLinux.com. The survey also said Ubuntu remains their Linux distribution of choice.


7. Survey: Desktop Linux use grows

DesktopLinux.com, which is a Web site devoted to, obviously, desktop Linux, has finished a survey that found more than a doubling of Linux desktop users in the past year.


8. Desktop Linux on the Rise, Linux Foundation Reports

For starters, almost 20,000 self-selected users filled out this year's survey compared with fewer than 10,000 in 2006's survey.

[...]

In those businesses and organizations that have deployed Linux desktops, 39.5 percent are running Linux on more than half of their machines.


“By giving the illusion that Linux is barely used, hardware and software vendors will have it further suppressed.”At the end of the day, it is worth reminding ourselves that there is a lot of money at stake (think about the paid-for denials of global warning). By giving the illusion that Linux is barely used, hardware and software vendors will have it further suppressed. Take everything you see in the press with a grain of salt. The same rule goes for comprehensive studies that typically have funding sources and also impose limits when it comes to accessing datasets (matching them to the general population improperly).

Another new essay from linuxhow2 is a fairly good one (especially once you ignore the swastika-like Windows logo at the top). It talks about Microsoft's coordinated smear campaign against Linux. Only recently we saw another such campaign. It was an ODF row of smears with the Burton Group (Microsoft partner), questionably-bribed journalists, and IDC (Microsoft-commissioned) publishing their 'findings'.

Have a look:

What are your thoughts about Microsoft's smear campaign?

I think they are doing this out of fear. They know that more and more people are going to Linux for a solution. For example, Google runs its software on Linux; current estimates are that they employ roughly 450,000 Linux servers - making them THE largest company in the world to rely on Linux for speed and security


The site does not exist to whine about the state of the media and the nature of advertising. Nevertheless, it is important that you understand how the information system works.

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