Linux Has No Marketing, But What if it Did?
Today, I was looking at a couple of interesting news and opinion pieces that made me think of an unfortunate truth that we've written about before: Linux has no marketing. The first piece that got me thinking about this problem was Roger Grimes' post on how the Mac platform is much less frequently targeted by hackers than Windows, because it's much less entrenched. That's even more true for Linux, where users have nowhere near the number of security headaches as Windows users have. The other piece I noticed was this one, which points out that even though the official release of Windows 7--expected to be Microsoft's first hit OS in many years--is three weeks away, it's already running on one in 67 personal computers.
Windows 7 has the potential to close the door on opportunities for Linux-based netbooks, and shut a lot of people out of new opportunities to try open source applications. And yet, I don't doubt that the hackers and crackers will be all over Windows 7, circulating new breeds of malware aimed at it. What if Linux had coordinated marketing behind it, and a targeted advertising campaign made the point that Linux-based netbooks can boot faster and are vastly more secure than Windows netbooks? That just might work, if it weren't a pipe dream.
In a post on OStatic last year, "Four Things Linux Needs," Novell's OpenSUSE Community Manager Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier focused on the fact that Linux has no marketing. He wrote:
"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."
Amen. And this October, when Windows 7 is gaining significant market share even before its official release, is exactly when Brockmeier's point is felt close to home. Windows 7 will be aggressively aimed at the hot netbook market. But Linux netbooks can be cheaper, boot faster, and reduce malware problems to near irrelevance compared to Windows 7 netbooks.
Many users of netbooks don't need, say, Microsoft's Office apps running. I use a netbook at home--and at events--for writing, web access, and e-mail. I can use Linux or Windows, so why not use the platform that is free of security problems? That would make for a good advertising campaign. Unfortunately, it's only an imaginary campaign.