After three and a half years of trying to make GNU/Linux work on the desktop, I’ve decided that it’s simply too hard for the average home user. Before I go into my reasons for going back, let me outline what I believe an ‘average’ home user is. Mr Joe Average is someone who wants to install their OS, boot it up, and it works. He wants to be able to upgrade his PC , and have the hardware work in a few short minutes. He wants to read email, browse the web, talk to his mates online, and play some games.
Three and a half years; that’s how long I’ve been trying to make Linux work on my desktop computer. Hear now my sad tale of why Linux isn’t suitable for my desktop.
Also see: Slashdot comments on the story
It is important to understand the entry barriers for using Linux on the desktop, and then work on breaking down each one of them. The key thing to note is that in Emergic we are not trying to switch users from Windows to Linux (or thick desktops to thin clients), but open up computing to the non-users.
In countries like India, 9/10 people in the workforce do not use computers. Thats the target market. The first-time user. The goal should be to delight a new user, rather than disappoint an existing user. Linux will never match Windows with the full functionality. But it is a “good enough” solution with an amazingly attractive price point.
We don’t want to create a world of pirates in emerging countries. We want them to respect and pay for software. But the price has to be right. Not many can afford to pay USD 1,200 for a new thick desktop with Windows and Office. However, if we can bring down that price to USD 200 for a Thin Client with Linux, it can now become attractive for the mass market in SMEs.
That is the key to Emergic: opening up new markets for computing, getting the next 500 million users in the world who are all in the world’s emerging markets — at the “bottom of the enterprise pyramid”. What we need to think of is how we address the needs of this market.
We need to find the people we can delight with the low-end solution. It is a market which can pay pennies, not dollars. But it is a hungry market. It too wants to taste computing. Emergic is about creating solutions for these segments.