The rise of the netbook has been an extraordinary saga. When the Asus Eee PC was first launched at the end of 2007, it seemed to come from nowhere: there was no real precedent for such a low-cost, small machine, using solid state storage and running GNU/Linux.
The brilliance of Asus’s move was shown not just by the rapid uptake of this new form-factor, but also the high level of satisfaction – the only element viewed less positively was the small size of keyboard, an inevitable consequence of the design.
As I and many others pointed out at the time, the netbook would have been unthinkable without GNU/Linux.
In part because free software runs better than Windows on low-power systems, and is highly customisable, but also simply because of its low cost: had Asus decided to bundle Windows with the system, it is likely that the price would have been significantly higher, because Microsoft would have wanted to preserve the margins on its operating system, and there would have been no incentive for it to cut costs for the Eee PC, which threatened to cannibalise sales of Windows-based notebooks
Some of the things that I’ve learned by asking (off the record) some local retailers of the Asus systems. These retailers tend to be more hands on than a “Best Buy”.
1. Linux outsold XP until Asus stop shipping Linux
2. The average buyer was either a college age buyer, or the over 50 crowed. Both wanted something light, fast and reliable. These two groups tended to like the Linux UI, more, but the over 50 crowed was more dismayed that the software they had wouldn’t run (surprised at the cost of replacement)
3. They were able to sell more addons to the Windows systems. (anti-virus 3rd party software)
4. Windows systems had a higher customer complaint rate.
IDG News Service – A day after an Asustek Eee PC running Google’s Android operating system was shown at Computex Taipei, top executives from the company said the project will be put on the backburner for now.
ASUS has effectively abandoned Linux and stated a power user would use Windows instead. This backflip stands against the history of their successful Eee netbook line. Nevertheless, ASUS’ loss will be the gain of more savvy players.
It’s no surprise to iTWire readers that ASUS has steadily been turning their back on Linux.
Earlier this year I sought to question the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training (DET) as to whether Linux options were genuinely considered when awarding a multi-million dollar contract to Microsoft and Lenovo to supply laptops to secondary school children.
DET chose to hide behind rehearsed statements rather than exercise transparency concerning the decision-making processes used so I questioned the competing vendors themselves.
On Monday, Qualcomm showed an Asus Eee PC using its new ARM Snapdragon chips to run Google’s Android Linux. From all reports, the skinny, little Android-powered netbook looked great.
So, this was a good day for Asus right? A new ARM-powered Asus netbook with Android, the Linux everyone has been talking about, and at a price-point that will given Intel’s Moblin 2.0 some real competition. Wrong.
The very next day, Asus’ chairman, Jonney Shih, after sharing a news conference stage with Microsoft corporate VP, OEM Division, Steven Guggenheimer, apologized for the Android Eee PC being shown.