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Is Linux Publicity Targeting the Right Market?

The "Average" User Wants a Machine

August 23, 2010

As a matter of fact, what IS the right market for Linux?

The mythical Average User? No way. The average user wants a computer that performs the tasks set for it. Those people are in the market for a computer, a real, physical machine, a tangible object with a keyboard (real or imaged), a mouse (or trackpad/trackball/touchscreen), and a display screen. The Average User scarcely notices, and certainly cares less, what sequence of binary commands course through the CPU to translate input into action. It is not HOW the system works that is the issue for the vast majority of users, but simply WHETHER it does. No, the Average User is looking for an actual object - hardware, not methodology.

Okay, so A. User shouldn't be the one to target. Who's next? Well, someone who already is a Computer User and has a computer (real, physical machine), but isn't happy with the way it's working AND doesn't want to replace it with a different one. That's important, because even in tight economic times a great many people who have suffered technological disasters with everything from toasters to automobiles have come to the conclusion that the ultimate solution is often to buy a different machine. That puts them into the Machine Market along with Average.

So far, it looks like the proper place to concentrate a marketing scheme for Linux is directly to the manufacturers of computers. That is old news, of course. If you can get a hardware maker to manufacture a made-with-Linux device, he'll even help you sell it - witness the Droid, and what promises to be a flood of Android tablets about to gush from the factories. That didn't happen after a campaign of articles and advertisements, it happened because Linux does a really good job of running on little bitty CPU's and modest memory. Not to mention that the manufacturer doesn't need to pay for a license to use - excuse me - RENT it.

There's often a problem or two about marketing to manufacturers - just ask Apple, one of whose over-enthusiastic marketers set up a kickback scheme in order to boost sales. The manufacturer has to be either bold enough to take on a new thing, or convinced that there is a pre-existing market out there clamoring for devices that can be run on Linux. Note "can be run" - there is not now, nor is there likely to be, a significant fraction of the population so attuned to the details of technology that an operating system in itself would be a big selling point. "It works" - "It works better than anything else" - "It's the best": that's what the manufacturer wants to be able to tell people about his machine. If Linux can help him say that, Linux it will be.

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