Lindows OEM Strategy

Interesting ideas from Lindows which we may want to keep in mind when we are ready with Emergic:

In order to increase the number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system builders, systems integrators and value-added resellers taking on its new desktop OS, the San Diego, California-based company is introducing subscription-based licensing for systems builders.

Instead of the usual per-unit fees, systems builders will pay a $500 monthly membership fee, which will entitle them to install the LindowsOS operating system on an unlimited number of computer systems. is also stating that there will be no volume commitments for system builders that sign up to the program, and no software activation codes requiring tracking and auditing.

The company points out that according to recent figures from research company IDC, 58% of the total PC market is provided for by “unbranded” PC computer vendors. This is a market that the company is eager to tap into with its version of the Linux operating system, which is designed to enable users to run some Microsoft applications unchanged. The company is also offering system builders immediate access to software, desktop customization, hardware burn-in tools, eligibility for LindowsOS certification and access to the company’s Click-N-Run Warehouse application library.

21st Century Notepad on Microsoft’s Tablet PC: “With its electromagnetic pen, touch screen and software that recognizes letters written on a screen, the Tablet PC hopes to be the notepad of the 21st century.”

I write a lot – 15-20 pages in my notebook a day, using pen and paper. Meeting notes, ToDos, ideas, personal diary, everything. Problem is searching the past archives. Something which can combine the ease of writing in a notebook with infinite capacity (so I only need to carry a single “notebook”) and wherein I can set keywords for quick retrieval would be very useful.

TECH TALK: Rethinking Enterprise Software: Whole Solution for USD 20 a month (Part 2)

There are three possible alternatives to bring down the cost of computers to USD 100-150, and thus target a mass market of users in the small and medium enterprises in emerging markets.

The first is to look at PDAs. The problem here is that we are changing what people are used to thinking of as a computer. A small screen and keyboard may look cute but it is not something that can be used for an entire day. For most employees, there is no need for mobility or portability in their computing device they are going to be working at their desk for the most part of the day.

An interesting comment by the CEO of Danger which has launched a platform for wireless devices offers a hint to the solution: When cell phones first came out, part of the reason they became so popular was because they were inexpensive and they worked the same way that your desk phone does. You have access to all the same content that you have for your desk phone. And there really hasn’t been a low-cost handheld device that offers that same kind of experience with what we’re used to on a desktop machine.

Replace cellphone by computer in what Dangers CEO says. The best way to provide the desktop experience is to provide a desktop itself. This brings us to the second possible solution.

We could try to create a new architecture for PCs from scratch to bring the bill of materials down to USD 100. The RD costs for this effort along with the time taken would be significant, even prohibitive. Even the most recent introduction of a computer by Wal-mart (from MicroTel, and running Lindows) is USD 299 (excluding monitor). There is no way I see how new (desktop) computers can be sold profitably at USD 100-150. The game of the future should be focused on software and marketing, rather than re-inventing the hardware. This brings us to the third solution.

We can look at providing second-hand computers to the masses in the enterprises. The developed world with its near-saturation adoption of computers is now disposing 3-4-year-old PCs by the millions. In fact, the US itself will see 45 million computers being disposed off in the next three years as corporates upgrade to newer desktops. In fact, in many countries the older PCs pose a recycling problem. These computers can be made available to the emerging markets. This is, according to me, the only way to get full-fledged PCs for USD 100. These PCs are targeted at a new set of users in the SMEs in emerging markets. For them, they offer the first taste of computing.

The computer has been the single most transformational invention of the past quarter century what we are doing now is making it available to the next set of 500 million users. This is the way to bridge the digital divide which exists between SMEs and the bigger companies, and between the emerging markets and the developed markets.

Whats different about these computers? The second-hand (used) computers should be stripped of the hard disk and CD-ROM drives. They need to be thought of as Thin Clients. What is different about them is the Software. They dont run MS-Windows on the desktop, but Linux. Think of them as Linux-based Thin Clients.

It is this third solution that meets Christensens two tests: of focusing on new markets, and disrupting competitors rather than customers. The new markets which are our target are the new users in the enterprises at the bottom of the pyramid. Customers are not being asked to change any habits they still get a desktop, albeit one that is a few years old.

Tomorrow: Whole Solution (continued)

Google and K-Logs

Searching for solutions in InfoWorld: “Similar to what Cisco did with routers, Google is looking to hit the sweet spot with a best-of-breed point solution, according to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.”

I have mixed feelings about Appliances. On the one hand, they offer an all-in-one solution. Plug-and-Play. On the the other hand, for a company focused primarily on software, its an additional hassle maintaining and managing the hardware. Perhaps, thats best left to system integrators.

I have a feeling, though, that we are going to start seeing more appliances in the enterprise.

On the same page, there is a very interesting sidebar by Jon Udell on “Google and Weblogs: best hope for KM”. Writes Jon:

Webloggers are becoming the guerrilla warriors of a KM (knowledge management) revolution.

Weblogs serve KM by making it cool to communicate. Before: “OK, OK, here’s my status report.” After: “Hey, look, I blogged my analysis of the requirements spec.” The presence of Google motivates in ways that go beyond the trendy appeal of Weblogs. Of course, posted items can be found later on. But more subtly, they participate in a status hierarchy.

The knowledge effects of Weblogging, or “k-logging,” go far beyond search-and-retrieval. A collection of Weblogs isn’t just a pool of documents. It’s also a knowledge network, where at each node human intelligence performs the routing function. The network’s architecture is publish/subscribe. Its protocol is RSS (Rich Site Summary), a simple, powerful, and popular application of XML. Bloggers tune into other bloggers’ RSS channels; they select and react to items flowing through those channels; they post items that also flow out on their own RSS channels. It’s a kind of Krebs cycle where the input is individual thought and the output is group awareness.

Very much what we’ve been thinking and I’ve been writing about. These are the underlying themes for the Digital Dashboard as the new Desktop.

WiFi – WSJ

WSJ on WiFi and the falling prices which is leading to increasing adoption:

A basic wireless network requires two devices, a base station (stores and retailers call it an “access point”) and a wireless card for a laptop or PC. In both cases, prices have been sliced by a third in the past 18 months. Base stations go for an average of $163, down from $245 in early 2001; wireless cards, which let laptops and desktops communicate with the base stations, have sunk to $74, down from $122, according to In-Stat/MDR, a research group in Scottsdale, Ariz. Consumers can find even better deals on the street. Gemma Paulo, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR, says she recently saw a wireless card on sale for $30 at a local electronics store. Aside from buying a base station and wireless card, the only additional expense is the monthly Internet connection, typically $40 to $50 for broadband access.