Thursday, September 13, 2007

When will Linux sellers wake up?

One of life's little lessons was visited on me (yet again) when I decided to boot europa, my desktop machine, into Ubuntu 7.10 Alpha 5. I fired up Firefox and went out looking at some sites to check various installed features. As I went rambling about the web I came across OSNews and checked out an article on the release of Fedora 8 Test 2.

Right there in the middle of the article was the Microsoft ad you see below. Now, I normally block ads on my other Firefox installs, but this time I was running with 'naked' Firefox, and because nothing was blocked I got a surprising eyeful. A big fat anti-Linux Microsoft ad placed right in the middle of an article about Fedora 8. Wow. Incredible placement.


And of course, the icing on the cake, an ad for Adobe's Photoshop, for which there is no native Linux version. Which leads me to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols' article "Why the Linux Desktop will succeed despite itself." SJVN was himself responding to Kim Brebach's 13 reasons why a Linux desktop was unlikely to make it any time soon. SJVN didn't answer point-for-point ("If you expect me to argue with the 13 reasons Kim Brebach gives for why the Linux desktop is unlikely to make it to a desktop near you any time soon, prepare to be disappointed. He's right."). He did agree with Kim on a (to me) key point, and that's the lack of marketing.

You can rant all you want about how bad Microsoft in general and Vista in particular are. I know I do. Ranting on obscure blogs and in obscure forums isn't enough. You have to market, and it has to be done professionally. And you have to be aware of how Microsoft is marketing and where. Microsoft, the ultimate competitor, is marketing in the heart of the Linux market (OSNews, slashdot, and so many others) with ads like the one above. Marketing really does work, and in this case, web page ads are dirt cheap compared to print ads. And web page ads come with cash that pays the bills. And if the only advertiser is Microsoft (or like Microsoft) and your monthly site fees are due, guess what you're going to do if you want to keep the place open?

I continue to be amazed at the naivety of the Linux population. Super bright technically, clueless when it comes to business life, many constantly rail against the unfairness of a market that won't give them a chance and wonder why they haven't taken over more desktops. I firmly believe a lack of coherent and clear marketing is a big part of that problem.

8 comments:

  1. hehe, yeah thats right, there are also these commercials on linux.com somethimes. Well, I thinks its all a question of money, nothing else.

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  2. Indeed, it is all about money. If MS is giving open sourcers money to promote linux, whats the problem? :-)

    It would be nice if some Linux businesses made enough money to advertise as well.

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  3. Bill,

    You are so right. I grimace rather than smile ruefully when I see those MS adds on linux sites too.

    Would Microsoft allow a Linux advert on www.microsoft.com? LOL

    it has to be cash rather than stupidity I think.

    Evan

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  4. Great Point, but what would you suggest web site owners do about this? Start blocking Microsoft Ads ?? That almost sounds like something they would do on a microsoft site but really marketing takes money and microsoft was able to last wee totally bombard every Linux site that accepted Google ads. I know this as I run ReviewLinux.Com - http://www.reviewlinux.com

    I kinda got a chuckle about it as here is a company spending ghood money advertising on a little site like mine. :) But heah it does open up discussion and debate. Their get the facts is a well produced oil machine and they feel the need to explain the differences in Linux. Great! Lets all talk and see what the outcome can be?

    M Perks
    ReviewLinux.Com

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  5. You will see these ads on LinuxToday and many other supposedly pro-Linux/FOSS sites.

    You will not find them on the foss community's new digg-style news hub, http://fsdaily.com though. They have a no MS ads policy.

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  6. MS ads on a linux evangelist site are a no-brainer. I would take that money all day long. The readers are linux geeks who have adblock on their firefox. No one who's on the fence about switching is reading. This is a non-issue.

    And those linux companies that want to be successful WILL market. Those that are happy with niche users will not. Observe Ubuntu vs. Slackware. There's plenty of room in the pool for everyone.

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  7. I found this article interesting, and all so true. It was in fact today that I'd sent an e-mail to a Journalist @ Digital NYT claiming they they (Linux) must have missed Marketing 101.

    I run Linux (Linux Mint Cassandra), and only Linux. Dell has let Ubuntu do their marketing. Duh? Meanwhile Microsoft Ads show up in Dell's Linux machines selection.

    Yep, you've made a great set of points.

    Anybody but us Geeks listening to things like this?

    JJMacey aka Adler
    www.jjmacey.net

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  8. Oh yeah, I have seen many of those types of ads on GNU/Linux blogs and websites. I guess, when it comes to marketing, we (GNU/Linux community) rely on people-to-people marketing rather than commercial marketing.

    One way, it is a revolutionary way of marketing. Just imagine whether Microsoft can reach where it is now with people-to-people marketing than commercial marketing? I don't think so.

    It's not an operating system of people, but a business operating system (manufactured and marketed commercially), but GNU/Linux is not and so people do marketing willfully through word or whatever way they can which is Unique to GNU/Linux.

    For the reasons I stated above, I guess the Microsoft's Blasphemy ads will not make any difference to any GNU/Linux user if he/she come across.

    Well, but it does says what a bitch Microsoft is.....

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