Dear Mr. Shuttleworth,
Get into the hardware business.
I saw you speak in 2004 in Gothenburg Sweden at the EuroPython conference, you gave the keynote (excellent speech) and told the audience about your upcoming project. It was a linux distribution that would be focused on the desktop and come with commercial support, two things you saw as being necessary to linux success.
Now Canonical and Ubuntu have made great strides toward realizing your vision yet there remains a bottleneck - people still have to install linux. Installing linux is easier than ever, but installing any operating system is unfortunately not trivial and is a chore that most computer users have no use for and will avoid. Remove this impediment, sell linux pre-installed.
Your company has been building a support network to support Ubuntu, this is a key ingredient in any successful hardware offering. Lack of a support system for linux is cited by Dell as a reason why it cannot just open the floodgates and soak the masses with cheap laptops. But you have that support network already built.
There are partners out there to potentially work with, like Asus or Acer. I think Acer would love to build Ubuntu branded laptops, then they could really challenge Dell. This is of course speculation on my part but the 100,000+ votes for pre-installed linux on Dell’s idea storm shows that there is a business case to be made for a Ubuntu laptop. You can even go upmarket and get IDEO to design your laptop or desktop, there is still a decent profit margin there and free software tools for creatives like Inkscape and the GIMP have improved substantially which might bring some of those taste makers onboard.
- there is a market for pre-installed linux
- you already have the support system
- potential partners exist in the hardware branch
- you already have the software
Thanks for reading Mark and I hope to be able to buy a Ubuntu laptop in 2008, put me down as your first customer.