Although it’s not a household name, Taiwanese hardware maker Asustek could prove to be key to the growth of Linux in the coming years.
This year Asustek expects to sell around six million notebook PCs. The most interesting part though, as reported by ComputerWorld, is that Asustek has also said that 3 out of every 10 notebooks it sells ships with some form of Linux operating system.
While 3 out of 10 don’t sound like a lot in most circles, 30% is a great deal higher than most other metrics that pin Linux adoption at around 1% globally. Apple, by many good metrics, accounts for just 8% of the desktop operating system market. This means that typically around 90% of the desktop OS market is owned by Microsoft.
So the fact that Asus expects to ship close to two million PCs with Linux in the coming year is big news for the Linux world.
Part of the success of Linux on notebooks to date has been due to one thing: Netbooks.
Asus led the way with its Asus EEE PC which was a lightweight laptop with the sole purpose of checking email and the Internet while on the road. Initially the company shipped the EEE PC with Linux because it kept the price of the units down in the sub-R5 000 price bracket which makes them very compelling for the average user.
Linux is also customisable so instead of installing a full Windows XP or even Vista version, the installed OS could be small and nimble. Of late Microsoft has got into the game and now most EEE PCs are leaving shop shelves with XP installed. And in the near future it is likely to be Windows 7 that will run the smallest of machines.
When Windows 7 is released in early 2010 it may pose a significant threat to Linux on Netbooks but until then Linux is looking well set to grow its portion of the desktop operating system market.
Whether Linux does indeed grow its market share only time will tell, but if Asustek has its way it will.