Werbach on Sun and Linux

Writes Kevin Werbach on Sun’s Linux strategies:

To be precise, Sun thinks there is a segment of the market that will move away from Office on the basis of cost and ease of administration. Consumers and business professionals will stick with what they know. Perhaps, though, customers like call centers, schools, governments, and some enterprises care more about total cost of ownership than features, familiarity, and flexibility. At that point, Sun wins. The center of gravity shifts from software, where Microsoft dominates, to scalable, reliable solutions, which is Sun’s strong point.

The jury is out on whether this will work. Previous efforts to unseat Wintel on the basis of price/performance all failed. Today there is one market for desktop software, not the two Sun envisions. Microsoft is pushing in the other direction, in conjunction with Intel and Dell. It wants there to be one market for server software as well, because then it can undercut Sun’s margins on the high end.

I like the point about Sun trying to create two markets. Actually, there are 3 markets on the desktop – 1 visible, and 2 invisible. The visible one runs Microsoft. The 2 invisible ones are:

  • the 300+ million desktops not running Windows XP. These are the computers which are 2+ years old, and are therefore likely to need an upgrade to run XP. This is a huge opportunity: how to create an OS for these users such that they can do what they are doing and not have to ever upgrade. This is the market no one is seeing.

  • the 500+ next computer users. They dont use a computer now, but aspire for one. They cannot afford one. They need computing at a tenth of the price that it is now at. Most of them are in the world’s developing markets.

    These are the two markets Sun (and others) are not seeing. Instead, the focus seems to very narrow: developed markets, niche segments, (unhappy) Windows users and sys admins. That won’t work. In today’s times, one should protect people’s investments (use the desktops which already exist through smart software) or reduce what they have to spend.

    Sun T

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.