More Evidence That Linux Doesn't Necessarily Need the Desktop

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 03, 2010

The other day, we considered the question "How much does Linux need the desktop?" It’s widely known that on the desktop Linux has held steady at only about one percent market share for many years, and that has caused many pundits to proclaim that it will never be a truly meaningful player on the desktop—especially on business desktops. Now, more and more stories are appearing about inroads for Linux on computing devices other than standard desktop and laptop computers. If you don't believe that Linux has enormous opportunities outside of the straight desktop computing straitjacket, look no further than Apple's iPhone operating system.

As Computerworld reports: "Apple's iOS mobile operating system is now the third-most popular platform on the Internet, with a share nearly six times larger than Android's, [Net Applications] said Wednesday." And, as noted here, the iPhone OS also surpassed Linux as the third most popular browsing platform, behind Windows and the Mac OS. Specifically: 

"According to Net Applications, the milestone came in July, when the release of the iPhone 4 apparently created a surge for iOS past 1% market share while Linux dropped below 1%. The trend continued in August, with iOS taking a 1.13% share compared to Linux's 0.85% share."

"It's something to take note of when a mobile operating system passes something that's been around forever," said Vince Vizzaccaro, a Net Applications vice president, discussing iOS overtaking Linux, as Computerworld reports.

Exactly--Linux has huge opportunities on mobile platforms, in embedded devices, and in many places other than the straight computing desktop. Let's not forget that Android, which is rapidly growing its market share, is Linux-based, as is Google's Chrome OS. 

After watching so many years of Microsoft, Apple and Linux duke it out over the computing desktop--with Microsoft taking most of the market share from that battle--people tend to be lulled into thinking that the desktop represents some kind of holy grail in computing. In fact, the number of opportunities outside it, and the importance of those opportunities, are rapidly expanding.