Linux software is in the same place now that DOS software was in the late 80's and early 90's. The trend then was shareware (Doom and Wolfenstein come to mind) and freeware. This trend went the way of the Dodo when the market was opened up by Redmond. It became obvious that there was a profitable market in the PC area because a little program called "Windows" was going to make PCs easier to use. Prior to that only geeks, colleges, businesses and the military were really 'into' PCs. Shareware of old transformed into what we know now as demos.
If Linux is to succeed in gaining it's deserved place in the market a few things need to happen.
An all out attack on the U.S. desktop market via an assertive ad campaign (i.e SuperBowl spot)
Big money investors that will sink big money into it in hopes of an even bigger return.
A distro that will not only attack the desktop environment to make it absolutely usable by all user but one that is willing to develope bundled software of it's own (Office and Quickbooks like), not to mention aggresively making internet bundling as IE did....charging websites to be added into the bookmarks folder by default.
- If any distro is to take on this task then it must address these issues inhouse. A) Easier installation. B) The desktop. C) Office Suite D) Financial Suite E) Games (not the soltaire variety but Sierra and Apogee variety). F) Attract the attention of major vendors like Apple etc.
Why are companies like Loki going belly-up? Because they limited themselves. Loki's development of Linux games was a noble cause but because they ignored th mainstream Windows users in their campaign they lost. If they wanted to develope games just for Linux then what (IMHO) they should have done was attacked both markets using mainstream sales to propel the company, then once the Linux market grew big enough to support them soley...dump Windows development. Which would do something else, attract even more users towards Linux for their beloved games.
In the 80's and 90's I played a lot of Sierra titles because their games challenged my intellect (yeah I'm the geek variety). But recently Sierra dumped it's Adventure genre because there wasn't a huge demand for them in comparison to other genres......PCs were no longer just for intelects and geeks. If someone could convince a company as big as Sierra that this genre has a place in Linux (and it does in my opinion) and if we will pay to for these game then perhaps other companies would follow their lead.
Attacking only one small part of the market and ignoring the larger more profitable side is nothing short of shooting yourself in the foot. And with the recent financial woes of certain companies I think it is time we rethink the marketing of Linux Distros.
Let's face it, I go into a large software store and I see aisles and aisles of Windows software. But when I ask do you have any Linux software I get pointed to two boxes....one a copy of RedHat 7.2 and Mnadrake 8.1. Why is this? Because Linux distros literally pull each other apart. Now I love freedom of choice just like the next TuxHead, But what needs to happen....no, what has to happen is each of the distros needs to consolodate into only One company. No more distros targeting a small sector, but One that will target the world market.
If each of these distros would simply meet in one place and consolodate their efforts then the market will be stood on it's ear. Financial centers would start to drool and Silicon Valley would start to think "Micro-who?".
I don't think this will happen overnight, but I hope that this idea is passed on to those in charge of heading distro managment and they give it some thought. Hell, I'd even be willing to attend the meeting and give my 2 cents worth......Scratch that I'd even take on the task of leading it...I'm brash enough to give Steve Ballmer a run that he wouldn't soon forget.