Is Lack of Marketing Still Linux's Achilles Heel?

by Sam Dean - May. 12, 2011Comments (6)

With Google rolling out its Linux-based Chrome OS this week, with Ubuntu out in a new release that a lot of people are liking, with the Linux-based Android OS witnessing unprecedented success in the mobile market, and for more reasons, these are relatively good times for Linux. It's hard to miss the fact that in addition to growing interest in pure Linux distros, Linux has, in true open source fashion, become a flexible platform that companies are able to build commercial strategies around. Still, despite all of this, there are still some who believe that Linux has the same Achilles heel that many people have said it has always had: lack of unified, aggressive marketing.

PC World's Katherine Noyes notes this:

"Now that we seem to be getting this close, however, it's making me think more than ever about what Linux still needs, and one of the biggest things I see is marketing. That Linux has come this far without the benefit of a massive promotional budget such as what Microsoft and Apple products enjoy is a testament to the excellent quality of its product. If it's to go further, however--beyond its stellar success with Android--it's going to need more...One way to recognize that fact would be to create something like an industry council that spans Linux distributions; they all contribute funds, and collective ads or other efforts are paid for jointly."

Indeed Joe Brockmeier made a similar set of points in his OStatic post "Four Things LInux Needs":

"If you took the marketing budgets of all the Linux vendors combined, and then doubled that figure, and then added a zero, you might start approaching what Microsoft spends on marketing Windows. Maybe. The ad councils for various industries have the right idea -- it's a good idea to pool your money to grow the market when you're jointly competing with another industry. It'd be much better for Linux awareness if, in addition to advertising for specific distros and products, we had a general ad campaign to get the word out about Linux and its advantages."

While there are Linux and open source purists who cringe at the sheer mention of terms like "marketing" or "public relations" in conjunction with Linux, the simple fact is that Linux gets less coverage in the press and less positive momentum because there is no powerful, unified marketing effort behind it. With Linux suddently giving birth to so many successful projects, and Android is a great example, marketing should remain on the Linux community's to-do list.



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6 Comments
 

it has to come preinstalled.

also support for dummies at least as good as the usual. perhaps support sites (forums) on the desktop.


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“Now that we seem to be getting this close, but, it’s making me reckon more than ever about what Linux still needs, and one of the largest things I see is marketing. That Linux has come this far without the benefit of a massive promotional budget such as what Microsoft and Apple products delight in is a testament to the brilliant quality of its manufactured goods.


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Many types of industries usually sponsor a trade group of some kind to handle these kinds of things for the industry as a whole. In this case there already is one; the Linux Foundation. If they would receive the funding and a mandate from the major Linux distro's then maybe they can also handle advertising to promote a positive view of Linux.


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Linux isn't adequately marketed because its creators are interested in technical perfection and not marketing. I would expect many distros to proudly resist attempts at coordinated branding.


The figures who can operate across the two worlds -- like Jobs and Shuttleworth -- are few and far between. Imagine what would have happened to Apple if Mac OS had remained just another techie BSD distro?


The answer is that specific distros and hardware should pull ahead of the techies. An example is ChromeOS, which is now starting to market to ordinary consumers. Unfortunately its value proposition could be lost on the public.


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Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, have all gotten to the point of being solid, capable environments that can truly replace Windows for work and utility. But the one leading reason that leads to machines that dual boot Windows/Linux--- Games!


Until we get some major studios releasing Linux games, we will always lack that momentum that comes with crossing the tipping point associated with "the next hot thing".


I would suggest Shuttleworth spend some money developing a game development environment that allows the developer to compile for Windows/Linux/Mac by just hitting a radio button prior to compile. There are already a few out there that do this, but they don't have the marketing muscle, visibility, (or dollars) to win over the big game studios.


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@Jump4Cover:


But the one leading reason that leads to machines that dual boot Windows/Linux--- Games!

________________________________________


I'm not a gamer, but I dual boot Windows/Linux because I use Windows for my HTPC needs (Linux is not an ideal platform for HTPC).


My friend is also a dual boot user and he is neither a gamer nor a HTPC enthusiast, but a professional who use Adobe Premiere Pro, AutoCad, and a host of high-end applications.


Gaming is not the only leading reason why people dual boot between OS.


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