The truth about the linux desktop market share

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

To understand the markets you have to know something about magicians, and how they work.

The magician will typically flourish something or gesture expansively with his right hand, while surreptitiously moving his left hand inside his jacket to remove or hide the next object to be palmed, so the trick with magicians is never look at what they want you to look at, and all of a sudden everything becomes quite clear, it is not magic, it is pop psychology, body language and misdirection.

You have to do the same thing with Linux on the desktop, comparing Open Office to MS Office is like watching the hand that the magician wants you to watch, you'll never get the trick and most importantly you'll never grok that the trick is social engineering, not magic.

I'll cite a case in point.

A few weeks ago a co-worker expressed an interest in buying a computer, going on the internet, etc.

As you do, I politely offered to help out.

I have enough bits lying around to have built him a pretty decent computer, around the 2.5 GHz CPU mark, none of it proprietary components, and I could have installed Linux (prolly Mepis, my personal favourite) or a warezed copy of XP+SP2 if he wanted to play games, maybe even dual boot.

Given current exchange rates I could have done this for about 100 US bucks, maybe 200 if we threw in a new fast hard disk and some new RAM, was he interested? no...

What he was interested in, and what he did, was go to Pissy World, and take out a credit agreement on an in-house branded piece of overpriced junk, which naturally enough came preinstalled with windows and and bunch of other rubbish.

If you think this was about buying a computer, or choosing between Operating Systems, then like the OLPC crowd, you are watching the magicians wrong hand...

This is about MONEY, more specifically debt, which is just another way of saying "power" and "influence" and "control"

The actual money doesn't matter, the money is just a vehicle, and what that vehicle provides is another individual with another lieu to big business, in addition to his rolling mobile phone contract and so on, he now has become entwined into a credit contract for some hardware and software which itself becomes a rolling upgrade contract cycle.

In this scenario where the actual money doesn't matter, all you need to do is ensure that the ticket price is high enough that the preferred method of entry is through the preferred turnstile, eg engaging in said rolling contractual relationships.

0.00 US$ Linux distros don't cut it, there is no "leverage" to be used there against the consumer, free as in beer or free as in speech discussions still don't really address this issue, they are still watching the magicians wrong hand.

For linux to enter the year of the linux desktop that we have all been waiting for, linux will have to be transformed, from free beer / speech into something that can be leveraged into a price point where the customer ostenibly has a choice between paying the ticket price in cash, but is penalised for this and encouraged to enter instead into the rolling contractual relationship.

The "free" computers idea that gets resurrected every now and again is an example of why linux fails, the idea there was that the users eyeballs would pay for and leverage the component cost of the equipment, it never stood a chance, because it was competing against a model where everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING from banks through credit card companies through insurance / warranty deals through hardware and microsoft all played the consumer into "voluntarily" signing up for the rolling contractual relationship business model, in which they become an asset which is tracked and analysed and traded and manipulated.

Linux will make it to the desktop along with the free PC and DN Forever, eg never.

Having said that, Linux adoption will continue, just as people like myself who have no mortgage, no overdraft, no hire purchase, no credit card debt, and no other rolling contract debts, like using linux wherever possible, because it is free not as in beer or speech, but free as in not leveraged against me, there will always be a core of people who feel this way, linux becomes what Karl Marx would have described as a "Political" choice, the workers control the means of production.

Microsoft et al like to stylise Linux and open source as a dangerous virus, we are talking about a subversive communist operating system and software, not a good old american capitalist one (capitalist doesn't mean monetary profit, capitalism means using monetary profit to leverage control, the money is the magicians right hand, control is his left, the one palming the cards) which means free software is dangerous, the enemy, a disease that in itself has no power, but which if it was allowed to eat into market share could sap the power and leverage of the incumbent market choices...

Linux is fairly safe and "benign", only those with market leverage and power can bring it to a point where it seriously impacts the incumbents, and by exercising that leverage you are by definition depleting your leverage and transferring all your power back to the individuals... not going to happen, not while there are capitalists in the same market to feed upon the prey.

Windows is a capitalist OS.

Linux is a anarcho syndicalist OS.

Mac is a communist OS.(chairman jobs' little red book)

PS3 etc is socialist.