Scene 1:

Lenovo’s Worldwide Competitive Analyst, Matt Kohut, predicts that Linux will always remain a niche operating system for netbooks. He said this in an exclusive interview with Tech.Blorge.

Scene 1.5!
The interview generates tons of comments – 46, as of writing this post – and most of them are understandably angry. Sample these…

The sarcastic!
“Someone need to tell this guy he slept for a decade and itâ??s not 1999 anymore. He is correct that Windows will have the majority share on Netbooks, but not for any of those reasons.”

The reasonable!
“I think Matt Kohut is right in a way but for the wrong reasons. His point is that Linux â??is more difficultâ? than Windowsâ?¦ BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. Linuxâ??s PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE ISâ?¦.INERTIA!!”

And, the abrasive!
“Matt Kohut is one of the reasons Lenovo fails.”

Scene 2:
Linuxtoday is understandably pissed with Matt’s quip and as expected, the angst goes into a blog post. It has 20 comments as of writing this post. But wait, there’s more in scene 3!

One of the comments pulls Microsoft into the fray too,
“What is probably happening is that Microsoft is paying Lenovo to try and subtly discredit linux.”

Scene 3:
The blog post from Linuxtoday gets Digg’d! It has 573 diggs as of writing this post. And yes, 140 comments too!

Sample this,
“Lenovo = poor excuse for computer company. Have a look around, there are so many vendors (Asus, Acer, DELL…) that are open minded, and doing their job properly, instead to just reading flayers provided by Microsoft”

Scene 4:
All this is obviously making a lot of noise in the twitter universe too!

Agreed – we’re not dealing with a generic feeling like disgust, as in the Domino’s social media disaster. And Lenovo/ Linux is not as simple as selling pizza. But, doesn’t this kind of vitriolic outburst, that too from a very specific community, indicate a smaller, focused social media disaster?

The problem is that Matt has a point, albeit, made quite mildly.

As a Ubuntu enthusiast, I downloaded Intrepid Ibex the day it was made available last year. I loaded it in my home PC (assembled with a lot of love and affection with the best ingredients!) and a Lenovo T61. In the home PC it had trouble with a lot of drivers; in the notebook, it worked almost flawlessly. I look forward to trying Jaunty Jackalope tomorrow, if its indeed coming out as scheduled, on April 23, 2009.

But the point is this – there’s no ‘official’ support to solve my Ubuntu issues (leave alone other distros) and I went on a Googling spree to solve individual problems. I’m not a techie, but reasonably tech-savvy to search for relevant solutions online. And, I was unable to run many things on my home PC in Intrepid Ibex to almost replicate my Windows experience (is that a good thing, I wonder?!). The notebook case was considerably better, with a few, negligible issues that I solved myself using…a Google search! But yes, it required time, common sense and patience.

Many PC users have the 2nd one, but not necessarily the 1st and 3rd. Isn’t that simply what Matt was hinting at?

As for ARM, many news pieces recently proclaim the arrival of ARM-powered PCs (netbooks, to be specific) that would be forced to go with a non-Windows operating system, simply because a bloated-but-popular OS like Windows may not be feasible. If these systems indeed come at a much better price and proliferate, then we’re looking at a fullblown non-Windows netbook army out in the open. That would perhaps force better support for Linux from vendors and PC manufacturers!

Disclosure: I work at Text 100 and Lenovo is my client, in India. ARM is a client of mine as well, again, in India.

Picture courtesy: Commons.Wikimedia



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