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Reflections on Open Source Commerce, Part 2

The Story Thus Far

May 16, 2008

Linux-based business-critical servers have found a stable home in the data center and in infrastructure computing applications in organizations of all types. The low-hanging fruit has been harvested; most Linux servers have been installed to handle workloads that traditionally would have run Unix-based operating systems. This application area is rapidly maturing. The major opportunity for ongoing growth is in developing countries.

Linux on the desktop has yet to gain any real market presence. Despite the unrest over Microsoft Windows Vista, the companies that focus on Linux as a business have yet to deliver a go-to-market proposition that is compelling for the consumer, for the retailer, distributors, and original equipment manufacturers. The consumer segment is the fastest growing potential market for Linux-based desktop solutions. The rise of the OLPC and the ASUS Eee PC, together with Microsoft's reaction to them, is proof that the consumer market is opportunity rich.

But will Linux be the platform that delivers just good enough in time to create a paradigm shift from the desktop and laptop to the new-school ultra-mobile, wireless enabled, consumer device that will work transparently the world over providing previously unimaginable access to the all the information that will be sage-guarded, housed, processed, and delivered to you over the grid? We do not know. But we must consider what will become of those who will not, or can not, change their computing practices.

There will always be a transition market, and there will always be a residual market. This is perhaps the area that should be the target for Linux and open source solutions development, look at is as a training and preparation ground for the disruptive change that may follow. One question still begs an answer: How will all of this be delivered to the end user, the consumer?