Lessons We Can Learn from Linux

April 23, 2008 at 6:40 am Leave a comment

Linux is slowly becoming ubiquitous.

By 2013, with the increasing sophistication of cell phones and the inevitable popularity* of mini-laptops like the Eee PC (Asus), Mini-Note (HP), and Cloudbook (Everex), Linux will become a real option for many consumers who will not make the switch from Windows after the purchase. According to ABI Reserach (via Matt Asey blog on CNET), 20% of the mobile market will be running on a Linux-based platform.

Linux in the Park

What once was considered an impossibility, Windows will eventually not be in every computer you turn on. Not only that, but there will be a fairly decent chance that the version that you are working on will be unfamiliar and there will be a varying learning curve.

What does that mean for non-software developers, or production-line-based business?

First, it shows that no matter how powerful a company may seem, there are always chinks in the armor that can be exploited. Microsoft Windows, for all its good features, is really expensive to produce. It does not make sense for Windows to be in every mobile phone as many of the American carriers have chosen to (practically) give away phones for free with a 2-year commitment. A Linux-based OS provides opportunity for those carriers to improve the quality of the experience on their phones without raising prices. Every company in the world has made choices about how to offer their product or service. The key for competitors is to exploit the differences.

Secondly, those who cannot accurately forecast up-and-coming developments in their field will be left behind. This reinforces the fact that you (yes, YOU, my dear reader) need to read the WSJ, need to read a trade publication, need to read about things that are happening outside of the industry, and need to continually improve yourself if you want to compete. There is no law that states that your company WILL make more money in the future. Calculated risk is acceptable and necessary in order to proceed. Understanding the existing and future market is critical in developing that calculation. This is important for companies AND individuals (that is, if you care at all about your career).

*Assuming that the market regulates itself and that there are some crazy government regulations that prevent people from taking advantage of awesomeness or the companies don’t start trying to trick their customers.

[image CC from John Vetterli]

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