First, the facts: During the Ubuntu Hardware Summit, which is expected to attract 200 PC industry members, Canonical will discuss:
- how Canonical works with Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs);
- boot time optimizations, hardware enablement;
- networking and more.
Mobile and Desktop MovesCanonical wants to attract more mobile device makers to Ubuntu. With that goal in mind, the conference will include:
"A session on the uTouch gesture suite that will make its first appearance in the 10.10.10 build of Ubuntu. The code is published under GPLv3 and LGPLv3. Updating from Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 to 10.10 will automatically include uTouch and Unity uTouch."At the same time, Canonical remains committed to the traditional PC market. Instead of positioning Ubuntu as an all-or-nothing replacement for Windows, Canonical is educating PC makers about potential dual-boot strategies. Specifically, the conference includes a Canonical session that describes:
"how Ubuntu can be included as a dual boot option with Windows. A discussion technically on how this is done without BIOS modification."
Rising CompetitionThe Ubuntu Hardware Summit arrives as Canonical faces rising competition across multiple markets. During 2007 and 2008, Canonical seemed to have significant momentum -- particularly in the netbook and desktop PC markets. At the time, Microsoft's Windows Vista was a stalled operating system on PCs, and Microsoft didn't have a competitive answer on netbooks.
Fast forward to the present and many of Ubuntu's target markets have changed drastically:
- Netbooks: Microsoft got its act together with Windows 7, and it's now difficult to find Linux netbooks in the U.S. retail channel.
- Notebooks: Here again, Windows 7 has won widespread respect, and Apple continues to dominate the higher-end ($1000.00+) notebook market.
- PCs: Aside from niche suppliers like System76 and ZaReason, Canonical has not attracted major U.S. PC makers to promote Ubuntu as a PC preload.
- Emerging Mobile Devices: Canonical in 2008 or so had hoped to develop a market for so-called Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). But today, it seems like Apple and Google Android are locked in a war to dominate tablets and smart phones.
Next MovesDespite those competitive threats, Canonical apparently remains in growth mode. The company's career site currently lists nearly 30 job openings -- a pretty large number, considering Canonical has roughly 350 employees.
Meanwhile, Canonical continues to diversify and has been attracting new ISVs to Ubuntu. Pushing beyond its core Ubuntu business, Canonical is trying to build revenue streams around personal cloud computing (Ubuntu One), remote systems management (Canonical Landscape), and service opportunities for enterprises and consumers.
On the ISV front, Canonical is expected to host the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando (Oct. 25-29, 2010).
The VAR Guy will be listening closely for OEM and ISV reaction from both the Ubuntu Hardware Summit and the Ubuntu Developer Summit.
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