Saturday, August 04, 2007

Will Acer be Offering Linux?

Dell, the world's 2nd largest computer vendor, has already started offering a line of Ubuntu products and have promised to expand it's line into more countries, over summer. There have also been rumours that the world's largest computer vendor, HP, is thinking of doing it as Dell reports that it's Linux products are selling well. So, it may not surprise anyone that Acer, the world's 3rd largest computer vendor, might consider it to.

So, when a copy of this advert made it's rounds on the Internet, a lot of people were excited. When I saw it, my first thought was that this is done by a reseller. It is quite often for people to do this back home. I have had some personal experience doing this as well, sourcing naked PCs and pre-loading them with custom software. So, there was nothing to get overly excited about.

Then, another article appeared on the Net, claiming that Acer has a whole line of products in Europe that come shipped with Linux from the factory. The part numbers listed are: LX.TH30C.061, LX.TJ90C.007, LX.THN0C.011, LX.THN0C.044, LX.AX90C.011, LX.AX90C.039, LX.AXL0C.009, LX.AXL0C.034, LX.AJ80X.097, LX.TK60C.003, LX.TK70C.002. So, this generated more unneccesary excitement.

But then, there comes an article in ZDNet UK that quotes Acer as saying that they won't bring Linux lines to the UK as there was no demand here. I really question that part of the statement. They are obviously not familiar with the number of people who use Linux here in the UK. The UK is, afterall, home to Ubuntu Linux (and several other Linux distributions).

Next, to confuse things, ZDNet UK published another article saying that Acer has completely turned around from their earlier statement. They now say that although there is currently no demand for Linux based Acer products in the UK, they are looking at introducing one in the future. This is either standard PR boiler-plate, or Acer has come to realise that this might be an opportunity. There is currently no major company in the UK that offers Linux based PCs while there are several in the US (Dell and many smaller ones).

Then, there is another article from ZDNet OZ that is finally confused by the message from Acer. Acer had told them that Acer has no committed plans for PCs with Linux. However, Acer tells them further that they offer products that meet customers' specific computing needs, including the choice of OS. Linux has its following here and Acer Australia can ship PCs with Linux pre-installed when there is a requirement. So, it would seem that Acer is willing to introduce Linux products in OZ if there is a demand.

Personally, I think that it's only a matter of time before they all have to start offering Linux products everywhere unless they wish to see Dell gain worldwide Linux sales. Dell is now learning a lot about pre-installing, shipping, selling and supporting Linux products. It's also garnering a lot of good karma with the Open Source community by applying some pressure on hardware vendors. It's already gotten many months of headway. It is doing a lot of co-marketing with Ubuntu and is clearly winning both the PR and sales war on Linux.

Furthermore, it's very interesting that the way Acer is phrasing it's replies to ZDNet. Acer suggests that whether or not they introduce Linux PC products will depend on customer demand. I guess that they are waiting for Dell to test the waters. Once Dell announces their official results, they can then gauge and decide on whether or not there is a customer demand for Linux. In the mean time, Dell will just keep clawing away and staking it's claim as the world's #1 Linux PC vendor. As I had predicted, this is the year for Linux.


koln_auhc said...

Acer is actually offering linux OS desktops and laptops in Malaysia according to the new advertisements it is showing now.

They do not specify which OS they are offering. Furthermore, the price they quote doesn't seem to be attractive at all.

For the Linux OS computers, the price difference would be RM300 compared to the Windows OS. Acer has decided to change the specs of the laptop at the same time, like what Dell does, to make it not so obvious to the customer which computer is more worth the price.

From what I can see in the advertisements, the Linux computers have about half the memory capacity of the Windows computers. (512ram to 1gb ram)

If you add it up, I would say that buying a laptop with Windows and then installing a linux OS would be more worth it (due to the hardware difference since upgrading the memory chip can easily cost at least RM 300 or so)

The price difference here isn't the same as described on your other post.

I think some monkeys must have been doing the maths in Acer.

Shawn Tan said...

It is possible to get 2x1Gb of Corsair/Crucial PC5300 SO-DIMM RAM for under GBP 50 here.

A quick glance at LowYat website shows that 2x1Gb PC5300 SO-DIMM RAM can be got for under RM 300 (here and here).

So, for the RM300 savings, it is possible to upgrade the laptop into a 2Gb machine instead!

So, if the only difference is the amount of RAM, to throw people off, it is merely a marketing thing. It's still cheaper to get a Linux machine than a Windows one.

koln_auhc said...

Hmm, well I was checking the price and products advertised on papers.

I guess the 300 savings can always get you a 2gb ram but then wouldn't it be better (if someone has the time and effort) to buy the computer with vista and better specs and then remove vista to get the cash back? In that case, you would be truly getting a linux machine which is cheaper.

The Dell prices after upgrading to the same specs would show that both OS would have a few hundred ringgit price difference.

It doesn't make sense that throwing away a Windows OS that cost up to RM400 wouldn't result in a lower price when One of Linux's attractive point is that it's free.

Just my 2 cents

Shawn Tan said...

1) You're assuming that you can get a money back return on Vista. This is dependent on the laws in Malaysia. In the UK, consumer rights are quite strong. But even then, I'm still in the process of trying to get mine refunded.

2) Companies differ in their price policies. If you think that Dell has a better deal, just buy a Dell. It's quite impossible to use Dell as an example of what Acer should do. They are pursuing different strategies. Maybe Dell wants to plant itself as the de-facto Linux PC vendor while Acer isn't sure of it yet.

3) Windows does not cost RM 400. All indications are that the Tier 1 vendors get Windows at US$50 only. Providing pre-installed Linux isn't free as there is still cost involved for the vendor to install it.

If this is regarding your planned new notebook, buy whatever you think is the best deal. I ended up with a HP because it was the best deal that I could afford at the time.

koln_auhc said...

Oh, this has nothing to do with my planned new notebook, yet. I just find Acer's marketing strategy to be very confusing compared to Dell's.

1)From what I can gather in the internet, getting a refund for not using Windows is a very tedious process. Probably going to be very difficult to do in Malaysia at all.

3) Fully agree with that, the cashbacks would reduce the Windows OS price by a lot. Though I would guess that the cost for making a computer certified for linux use would lie more on the need to write driver softwares (initially).

Shawn Tan said...

1) Yup, for the moment, Microsoft and HP are both ping-pong-ing me between the two of them. If I get fed up with it, I will lodge a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading, UK. I will try my best to resolve it nicely first.

3) Nope, writing drivers have nothing to do with it. As with Windows, the vendor doesn't write any drivers. It's merely the initial testing, certification and installation.