Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-marketing (129 mails)
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Re: [opensuse-marketing] How not to market free software
- From: "Brent McConnell" <bmcconnell@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 07:43:10 -0600
- Message-id: <4A96552E020000B90000A067@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sorry to jump in late to this discussion but it's a very good one and I can't
help myself. I'll assume this discussion pertains to Linux on the desktop as
most of the discussion seems to indicate that.
My 2 cents are that the "Average Joe" doesn't see much choice in OS and I think
we have to remember that. If Joe walks into Best Buy the only computers he
sees running Linux are either netbooks, routers, or storage devices and to make
it worse he doesn't even know they are running Linux :(. I can honestly say
that I've never walked into a mainstream computer store in the US and seen
anything but Windows or Mac on a desktop or notebook. So if Average Joe buys a
laptop, his only choice is between hardware manufacturers. He has no real
choice in OS. However, let's say Average Joe has a friend who convinces him to
try Linux. He still has to buy Windows on the PC at the local store and give
up his support just to get the computer home and install Linux.
Apple is a very interesting case IMHO. They developed an experience with the
iPod that was so profound that they were able to create shopping experience
around it. This then allowed them to showcase their technically superior
products with the iPod. Having just watched my daughter who is 10 save up for
an iPod I am amazed at what Apple has created. Here is a girl of 10 who makes
maybe 5 dollars a week (plus birthdays) saving over 130 dollars to pay the
Apple premium. Wow!
So how did they do that? I believe it is a combination of quality and passion.
They created a technically superior product and then a marketing campaign that
drove adoption and created passionate users in a small focused market.
Having said all of that I think Linux on the desktop has a good chance but I
believe it has to take an approach that doesn't put it head-to-head against
MSFT or Apple. For instance I believe that netbooks (maybe Moblin) could be
the way to people's heart. Give them a great experience for less money than a
comparable MSFT netbook. Then add even more value by doing things like
subscription services for content (not unlike the Kindle), better picture and
video management, social network integrations, and a better music experience.
This will create passion for Linux because its more value for the money.
Sorry about the ramble but my point is that we need 3 things and none are easy
1) A better product ( in some ways we have this and in others we need
2) Routes to market (how can Average Joe get us?)
3) A focused marketing campaign that builds passionate users in a targeted
market (not unlike iPod)
OSS Community Manager: Kablink, iFolder
John, a very good response and I appreciate your thoughts here. SomeBryen M Yunashko <suserocks@xxxxxxxxx> 8/26/2009 11:10 PM >>>
in-line responses below:
On Wed, 2009-08-26 at 21:51 -0500, John Lange wrote:
On Wed, 2009-08-26 at 17:14 -0500, Bryen M Yunashko wrote:
When we answer "Why?" we make the mistake of falling into a technical
litany. Average Joe doesn't grasp those technical points. Those issues
never even popped into their mind.
I think, somewhat ironically you do the same thing... You talk about MS
security failings and never do answer the question "Why?" Not taking a
shot at you, just making the point that "Why" is actually a really hard
question to answer.
In fact, I would dare say that all the miscreants of the world that have
made a mockery of Windows ... did MicroSoft a favor. You and I both
know Microsoft has to take at least
partial blame for this culture, but Average Joe doesn't get that.
I don't agree with that. Most people profess a "hate" of Microsoft and
are eager to tell you "Microsoft sucks". Yet they continue to use their
Maybe I just hang around too many techs (I work at a company that does
tech support) but I've never heard any of our techs (or clients) say
positive things about about MS software. Despite that, not one of them
runs anything other than Windows as their primary operating system or as
far as I can tell has anything but a passing interest in Linux or (Mac
for that matter).
As you've aptly pointed out, you are basing your experience with techs.
I too have the same experience as you have. My "average joe" that I was
referring to is the consumer that walks into Best Buy. So yes, you have
made clear that there are different groups of "average joes" out there.
And we need to remind ourselves of that as we develop marketing
The only thing putting a dent in MS market share is Apple's iPod (and
now iPhone). The "coolness" surrounding those products has lead to a
"dramatic" upswing in Mac sales. Dramatic in this case means, 7% of all
users are now Mac users (up from 5%).
I'm seeing a lot more people replacing their PC's with Macs. I don't
know the actual market share out there, but I have seen recent reports
showing Apple having a very positive upswing in Mac sales. But it's
about more than just sales. In fact, in our marketing strategies here,
it isn't really even about sales. It's about mindshare. And Apple has
successfully captured mindshare where we see not only people buying but
also people who haven't bought saying "Hmm maybe I should try a Mac."
What can we say about Linux mindshare to the average joe?
So, even with all the positive publicity that Apple gets combined with
Microsoft's "un-cool factor", the best Apple can do is a 2% gain in 5(?)
The message we have to focus on is how this will do the job
they want to do.
That isn't good enough. You have to answer "how will this do the job
MUCH BETTER than what I have now?"
From the perspective of the average desktop user, Linux has neveranswered that question. And given the state of gaming and multi-media,
it probably never will.
At best we've answered the question "how can I do most of what I used to
do but cheaper?" But in reality Linux isn't even cheaper since the
average desktop user gets Windows "free" with their PC purchase.
So where does that leave us?
So like Zonker basically says, forget about MS. Focus on us and the
good things we do!
Exactly. Or focus on enjoying your own computing experience and who
cares what everyone else is doing?
Maybe so. But let me remind you that this is the opensuse-marketing
list. :-) So for those reading this list and participating on the
marketing team, we are supposed to care. :-)
I told everyone that relied on me for technical support that "I don't do
Windows". Either switch to SUSE or find someone else. All except one
found someone else but at least I can proudly say that the percentage of
users I support who are using Linux has jumped to 100%! Now THAT is
good marketing spin! ;)
Keep it up John! Great job. And do spread the words to others about how
you achieved this so that more of us can continue to spread Linux.
Let me also point out another important marketing tip here. We are
marketing openSUSE (both the project and the distribution). We are not
marketing SUSE. Those are distinctly different products.
Besides, if Linux ever became popular then I'd have to switch to
something even less popular than Linux is right now...
That reminds me, where did I put those OpenBSD floppies?
That reminds me. Where did I put those floppy drives?
openSUSE Board Member
GNOME-A11y Team Member
www.bryen.com (Personal Blog)
www.planet-a11y.net (Feed aggregator of the Accessibility Community)
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