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Discussion in 'Other Operating Systems' started by neotheo, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    For a while now (the last 2 years or so) I've been looking closely at the marketing tactics of RedHat.

    Given their particularly niche market (midrange enterprise systems), their marketing is still quite direct. They tend to advertise heavily to existing customers, waiting on people who have existing subscriptions and inviting them along to "webinars" (typically online streaming events).

    They also put a fair bit of effort into making appearances at trade events, sending quite knowledgeable staff along to those (not just vacant booth babes).

    In the typical fashion they also have a lot of customer testimonials and whatnot on their site (some are companies I've been involved with, and know for a fact they're quite accurate and not too fluffy).

    But that's just one company. I've still got my eye on Canonical. I'm keen to see when they're going to progress to that level, given their recent partnerships with Sun/Oracle/Java, IBM/DB2 and Amazon/EC2.
     
  2. Archy

    Archy New Member

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    I think as the owner of the most widely-known consumer-focused Linux distro, Canonical have some sort of responsibility to push for the Linux community as a whole. Everyone (Users and developers) benefits from the publicity. Dell, on the other hand, has potenially done damage to Ubuntu's reputation. When a distributor of a product talks it down, then it really gives a bad impression the public - people who don't know otherwise.

    Basically, Canonical has been lazy and Dell have been idiots.
     
  3. Hamal

    Hamal Member

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    I would like to see more community inspired efforts reminiscent of the Firefox campaign some time ago.
     
  4. stmok

    stmok Member

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    I think this is why Apple took the approach of controlling both hardware and software. (Even though they use open source technologies as their basis.)

    The thing about signing up with a well-known hardware OEM is that they have a long standing relationship with Microsoft. They wouldn't want to screw that up, unless the alternative offers a proper 1-to-1 replacement to Microsoft's solutions.

    ...And this is the other problem with Linux and marketing it on pre-built systems.

    (1) You can't market something that hasn't demonstrated robustness or polish in terms of user experience. People don't tolerate frustrating "niggles" in solutions. If it isn't better than the previous solution they were using, there is no reason for them to leave.

    => Every new release of Ubuntu brings in new issues. They don't address some of their old issues well. So the quality is not good enough for more people to notice the solution with enthusiasm. Its really saying something when the LTS version also has "niggles". (While they get fixed when patches are released later on; the first impression is the most important one.)

    Sometimes I think open source needs to step back, catch a breath, and design things on paper before they type a single line of code. (Learning to design/implement things well; that are robust, secure, and need fewer patches later on; is harder than just start beating out code on the keyboard and praying that the compiler doesn't spit out errors.)

    This is where OSX does it better (experience perspective) than Linux desktop distro developers. OSX should be the benchmark to beat. But it shouldn't be blindly copied from. Analyze their ideas...Ask: Can we do that better? What if we do it this way? Or that way?

    (2) Where's the much needed applications for Linux?

    Native Linux apps that are 1-to-1 alternatives to the popular commercial solutions found on Windows is what's needed...You cannot encourage any professional off Photoshop if they rely on that for a living.

    The open source community needs to start focusing on hammering out something that allows one (or a team) to do it full time with an income stream...Need to brainstorm, research, and experiment here on a suitable business model.

    (3) You can't team up with another party who has priorities elsewhere.

    Think of it as analogous to personal relationships...You're interested in a woman. But she's really in a committed relationship with another guy. When push comes to shove, you are considered a distant 2nd.

    Same with Dell. When push comes to shove, sticking with Microsoft is more profitable for Dell.

    Canonical should step back and re-think their approach...
    * Drop Dell...And don't bother using Microsoft's approach and trying to shoehorning it to Ubuntu. It won't work.
    * Establish relationships with hardware makers.
    * Turn Canonical into a provider of Linux-based systems; that also happens to develop their own distro called Ubuntu. (Similar to Apple's approach.)
    * Establish new processes to find and address the issue of those "niggles" in releases. (It'll hurt a few releases, but if it irons out the issues in the long term, its worth it.)

    There's much improvement needed for Ubuntu to be taken seriously. I think Canonical seriously needs a person who understands people and knows how to lead/inspire them. A real leader of the project. Not some public figurehead who knows very little about making good software.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  5. cdtoaster

    cdtoaster Member

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    {cleary edit: off-topic - you've had fair warning}
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2010
  6. tr3nton

    tr3nton Member

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    {cleary edit: off-topic bit removed}

    So RedHat aims to get new customers through word of mouth among existing customers that use (i.e. dont really try to focus on getting new customers themselves (directly), and let their customers do so by ensuring they have a good experience (indirectly))?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2010
  7. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Yes, in a nutshell.

    It's definitely an indirect marketing perspective. Although with that said, I would guess (because I'm no marketing guru) that it would be easier to get an existing customer onto a new product (e.g.: get a RHEL user onto Jboss or RHEV) than it would be to go out onto a new customer site cold and pedal your wares.

    But I can't ever recall a time when I've seen a RedHat ad in a glossy magazine like other large software vendors.
     
  8. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    Android - managed to nail the lot, except not on a standard desktop form factor.
     
  9. Archy

    Archy New Member

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    Yes, and they've been rather successful, as a result. But there are 3 main reasons that Canonical can not just copy the actions of the Android success:

    1) Support - If you have Google backing you up, you already have a headstart. Google has incredible advertising power and a massive income to support a potential dead-end. If you want to see something that is almost a mirror of Android, see Chrome. Taken from an open-source project, tweaked and advertised. Huge success. Canonical doesn't have the same backing, and if they stuff up big time, they've damaged their reputation, Linux's reputation and will have suffered a dramatic financial loss.

    2) Applications - Desktop systems are a different kettle of fish. People rely on PC-based specialised software far more often than they do with mobile devices. Phone apps are quite simple in comparison and generally require less getting used to. I've heard this a long time ago, so I'll bring it up again. The problem with Linux and many other open-source products is that they are similar to Windows. Too similar, that is. Because they intend to do the same function in the same way, people get frustrated by the smaller differences. For example OO Writer is very similar in function to Microsoft Word, which is why it often becomes a problem - everyone seems to subconsciously expect a free version of Microsoft Office and thus are sorely disappointed. GIMP is not close enough to a Photoshop/Fireworks clone that everyone brands it as a bad product, rather different. Believe me, I'm guilty of the same mistake. OpenOffice is not Office 2007, and while I acknowledge that it is a great product, I am too stuck in my ways to accept that. On the other hand, the Gnome and OSX environments are different enough to Windows that I don't mind using them. In fact, I find the different OSs/WMs very refreshing. KDE seems to suffer in this regard a little, because to me it seems very similar to Windows. Again, impressions are what matter here, so for anyone willing to pipe up and tell me how different KDE is - it's not relevant.

    3) Hardware - Problem number three - Apple and Android will find it much easier to be bound to a certain platform, as they are in a very different situation, and this is totally unavoidable - Linux is free. Canonical is going to have a VERY hard time marketing their own hardware if they intend to keep Ubuntu free. There's no point them selling hardware when someone would rather just install Ubuntu on what they have. Again, if they make the hardware optimised for Ubuntu, they're going to face other issues - the mainstream version will face compatibility issues with mainstream hardware, as the focus is taken away, and the hardware will likely be less friendly with Windows, see Apple.
     
  10. stmok

    stmok Member

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    We need to look at the surrounding conditions...Google is the current developer of the Android platform/toolkit. (In reality, they bought the start-up firm who developed it: Android Inc.)

    However, Google's primary function isn't as a Linux distro developer.
    (Even though they use Linux as their OS since they began as a search/ads company).

    They've established their reputation (and massive income) as THE search engine to use. Its up to the point where regular Jane/Joe and the media refer to searching things online as "Google it". (You know you've made it big when your brand becomes a common verb around the world.)

    They have LOTS of money to invest in. They have built all these online services (infrastructure) around their brand...So they can pitch to hardware phone makers as to why they should adopt Android as the software platform to use for their mobile solutions.

    Canonical? It has yet to establish itself with the average Jane/Joe user. They don't have something that really stands out.

    Sure, they have made strides in areas that other distro developers struggle with...But in other areas, it feels they don't allocate their efforts to things that actually make the big differences. ie: Making cosmetic changes or additions isn't the same as focusing on preventing those "niggles" with every new release. (A user will know and experience the difference.)

    Now look at the following differences of both companies...

    Canonical
    Revenue in 2009 => US$30 Million
    Employees => 350+

    Google
    Revenue in 2009 => US$23.651 Billion
    Employees => 21,805 (as of 2010)
     
  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Yeah as much as I hate to admit it, I think Canonical aren't going to find wide-spread success without the help of a hardware vendor.

    Getting to that "default install" stage is going to be what they need to aim for. And that requires hardware OEM partnership.

    Given that Intel and Google (and to a lesser extent HP) are sporting their own quasi-distros and pushing very hard down that path, it means Canonical have quite a challenge ahead of them.
     
  12. stmok

    stmok Member

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    Google is definitely going to be pushing on their own with Chrome OS. But it looks like its going to have the long term goal of being ARM based only. They're aiming for "Internet Appliance" type systems that connect to their online services model. (Limited desktop role.)

    Intel is really focusing on making "reference distros"...
    => "Here's an example of how to make a distro that works well with our hardware. You can use this to base your distro on."


    Canonical should consider someone other than Dell for an OEM...

    Dell pays SEC fine, neither confirms nor denies Intel payoffs
    => http://techreport.com/discussions.x/19339

    So when the conditions are right, Dell can be bought!...Nice.


    Here's something more interesting...

    Dell decides to sell Linux boxes over the phone
    => http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1724783/dell-decides-sell-linux-boxes-phone

    This is just as good as not having Ubuntu-based systems altogether. Looks like its back to the drawing board for Canonical's plans.


    Maybe the "franchise" approach...

    Like 7-Eleven, McDonald's, Subway, etc...Canonical provides hardware/software support and the franchisees are the ones that are on "the front line"; selling/supporting the customer.

    Canonical would have to form close relationships with hardware folks or somehow establish their own system building branch to ship pre-built systems to franchisees. (Maybe buy hardware components in bulk from companies like ASRock, ASUS, Clevo, etc and standardise on system build configurations?)

    I guess I envision something like what one sees with System76.
    => http://www.system76.com/
    (But they would be franchisees in each State of a country.)


    Of course, one would have to establish the Canonical/Ubuntu brand first. (Franchises work really well if the general public can related to a product or service to your brand.)

    ...To do that, it would need to stand out. (I'm just floating ideas here...)

    => Polish and quality releases. (May involve restructuring and the introduction of Lean production principles to establish better releases. ie: How come we get this result? What's causing it? Is that a symptom or the root cause? Can we do this better?...Painful in the short term. But brings good results in the long term.)

    => Start open source projects under the Canonical name; in order to build "killer apps" for Ubuntu. The goal is to build specific rivals of popular commercial apps as found on Windows. (Or even "buy out" existing open source projects? Under this situation, its very important about being clear on the goals. Trust is everything.)

    => Assist people in making the transition from other OSs to Ubuntu. (Professional paid service? Or when they start selling systems later on; as included service for those who bought a Canonical system?)

    => Education/Training...While there are Certifications; why not some sort of Academy that formerly brings interested folks into the Ubuntu ecosystem? (Internship or mentoring at Canonical? Developer forums for third-party developers? Partnership with Universities? Invite local computer shops to get involved?)

    => Commercial Games...Team up with Valve via Steam? Establish a branch of Canonical that specifically ports games over to Linux? Bring in a forum to address the concerns of gamers? (Source of feedback.)

    I guess one could borrow ideas from Apple...But without that Apple "marketing aggressiveness" and "control". (Their recent "deflection of responsibility" with their iPhone 4 issues is going to hurt them.)

    Essentially, I think its possible to look at both Microsoft (and their hardware OEM friends), and Apple; see what they can't do and provide a service that they don't...Some disadvantage in the customer's perspective.

    There's also the importance of getting existing infrastructure involved...

    Here's what I mean:

    Say you are a part of the Microsoft ecosystem in the form of support or sales role. Your livelihood depends on it. What do you do when some other technology (like open source) threatens the ecosystem? You fight to defend it, of course!

    How does one address this?
    * Certifications?
    * Guides/leaflets that assist with transition?

    Many interesting things to ponder on...For Ubuntu to really succeed with the general public.
     
  13. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    The only question you missed is whether it is even important it succeeds? The only people who will benefit from it's success are canonical...

    For those who say "Linux" will benefit from higher exposure, I highly doubt it. Android is making stupid amounts of headway - but no end user "cares" that it's running a linux kernel. Same goes if Ubuntu "makes it" - it will be the Ubuntu brand, not linux that people will know.

    If Mark decides to give up on his project, it won't be a major drama - all the other major linux distributions are not going to go anywhere...
     
  14. stmok

    stmok Member

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    I pondered on this question...And I don't agree that Canonical will be the only party that would benefit from this.

    You see, Canonical has established Ubuntu as the distro for beginners to go to when it began going after the mainstream market.

    Its now the norm for experienced users to suggest Ubuntu for someone who is looking to try Linux for the first time.
    => http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=891663

    Now if you put yourself in the shoes of a beginner Linux user who's long been in the Windows world for many years; you will make the presumption of Ubuntu = Linux.

    If Ubuntu stuffs up, its seen as a black eye to Linux as a whole.
    ie: "This sucks. Linux sucks. What a waste of time."

    If Ubuntu makes tremendous progress (with the application of engineering resources in the right areas); IT news/review sites will take notice and spread the word. ie: "Hey, Ubuntu is pretty cool. Linux ain't so bad after all."

    Basically, Ubuntu is the "front door" to the Linux world for beginners. It introduces Linux to them. (While others can do better, they aren't as popular.)

    The problem is that Canonical aren't focusing on areas that really matter in the long term scheme of things. (Trying to emulate Microsoft when you don't have the financial resources and marketshare influence, doesn't work for smaller software providers. Canonical needs to try a different approach that works for them.)

    Android isn't associated to Linux in a marketing sense. Its associated to mobile devices such as cell phones, etc.

    Ubuntu is associated to Linux. That's how Linux beginners see it.

    While I agree the major distros won't be affected; it will be a major drama when IT news sites pick up on it. (Yeah, those sensationalised headlines.)
     
  15. Archy

    Archy New Member

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    This is what I originally had in mind. This is why they have a huge responsibility.
     

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