There are a few reasons why the little penguin isn’t succeeding on mainstream computer industry, and none of them have to do with poor or missing functionality
1. There’s just too much momentum behind Windows and Mac OS X; and too many preconceptions about their alternatives.
Linux is often perceived as having steeper learning curve for little extra benefits. Migrating big network to a Linux platform is akin to navigating a giant supertanker through a crowded, narrow and winding river. Just in minutes, you will capsize dozens of sampans, it would better to turn back and ride the waves on the sea of obscurity.
Often, being latest and innovative is unnecessary. Many people still gladly trod along with the simple yet (un)attractive with Notepad, Paint and Calculator, let alone using a free alternative such as OpenOffice. They will only consider a worthy alternative when there are more serious issues, more menacing icebergs or uncharted territories on the horizon. So away from the mainstream computer industry, Linux is faring better.
Smaller, more innovational companies quickly understand the real benefits of producing cheaper and better products. This is why derivatives of Linux are experiencing more success in smartphones. It may mean mobile devices can become a foothold of Linux expansion to the mainstream computing or maybe this is just an isolated sanctuary for the open source OS.
2. The lack of centralized marketing.
That’s because there is no actual Linux HQ. It’s just a brand owned by the inventor, Linus, and a term that’s usually reserved for just the OS kernel – hardly an attractive item to sell.
There are many people publicizing their own Linux mods (distros), all keen to be the best inside a relatively small niche community. These divided efforts worsen the problem. With the likes of Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and even the ‘tiny’ Kolibri, all fighting for the biggest slice of pie, there is no one left to promote Linux as a unified brand. That’s something Microsoft and Apple do really well, and something Linux community leaves to the mute Tux, the penguin.
You may argue that a common standard is the real answer to this conundrum, this would mean we have only a single base distribution or the ‘official’ Linux – everything else is just ‘Linux-based’.
Mozilla manages this really well with its Firefox brand. It’s freely modifiable and distributable, but the brand ‘Firefox’ is untouchable. Change anything as you wish, but you can’t change the name. However, Debian has ‘IceMonkey’ a Firefox-based browser, thus breaking Mozilla’s guidelines. This may cause some confusion if you want to find Firefox in a Debian desktop.
There’s very little in Linux that appeal common users. If Apple decided to use Linux in the iPad you may have lower price, but you’ll lose the magic. But, it remains to be seen if the Linux-based Chrome OS on tablets can be as pretty and as intuitive as iOS 4.3 on the iPad 2.
4. The last reason is easy to figure out but harder to solve.
It’s most likely the same reason why you are not using Linux while reading this article right now. The solutions would also make all other problems solved. The reason why common people not using it, is that there are no good enough reasons to do that.
Purported Linux advantages such as improved performance, better security, low cost and rock solid stability are shown to be not good enough to win many converts. These benefits aren’t exciting enough; if you are the only one using it in the office. Human is a social creature, being different in a big flock is often disadvantageous, as it may mean you are the only one who can’t obliterate zombies in a Left4Dead 2 LAN party. Furthermore, many analysts praised Windows 7 as the first Windows version that finally ‘works’, as the result Linux advantages are diminishing by days.
Linux has brilliant programmers, innovative managers, a dedicated community and unending innovations. But to be successful in the coming decade, the Linux community may need a modern version of ‘Genghis Khan’ that can unite all warring Linux clans and move westward to beat Microsoft and Apple Kingdoms.