There seems to be an interesting trend developing within the Mac community. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to get more people to adopt OS X, there seems to be a division emerging among Mac users. Ubuntu is the name of an open source Linux-based OS which appears to be gaining some momentum among Mac users. The name Ubuntu comes from an African word meaning “humanity to others”. The story that brought this to my attention was posted on The Unofficial Apple Website (http://www.tuaw.com) where one of the editors is creating a press release where he declares his decision NOT to switch to Unbuntu in the face of increasing pressure. Actually the article is a bit of a rib towards a Digg article where a few unknown bloggers (not much different from the writer of this post) who host an Apple focused blogsite decided to switch from OS X to Ubuntu and actually created a press release declaring this.
As much as I think the last thing the small Mac community needs is division, I am a big proponent of open source as a concept. Some of the best products that I’ve begun using recently are open source developed apps. I’ve been really tempted to install OpenSUSE, but I’d need to find the time and to set up another box and I’m way too lazy for that right now. But it will be interesting to see how this movement develops. I really really like this trend. It’s forcing all of the big OS developers (Apple included) to take notice of a movement that could be seen as a threat and to be sensitive to the requests of the community. Microsoft in particular should be wary of the open source community more now than ever. I would have bet the farm that Internet Explorer would never even have come close to being challenged for market share. I don’t agree with all of the Firefox related market share numbers, but apparently this is more than just a geek thing. No longer will we see any OS manufacturer draw out the release of a product the way Longhorn/Vista has been. I admire the fact that they’re taking the time to get it right and I have an appreciation for the scale of a project like the development of the next Windows operating system, taking into account all of the legacy equipment and applications that will eventually be attached to it. However, the landscape is changing such that five years from now when it’s time to talk about the successor to Vista, it may be much less of a foregone conclusion that the majority of Windows users won’t consider an alternative. Same goes for OS 10 users. As these small OS projects gain more momentum and as open source projects become less geeky and more appealing (check out the Ubuntu website), the barriers to switching platforms may become more and more transparent.
I think most of the mass media is correct in labeling Google as a prime candidate to compete with Apple and Microsoft. They have a business model with Ad Sense that insures revenue, they’ve proven throughout most of their releases and beta releases that they know how to create a positive user experience and they have the commercial appeal to pull something like this off. They’ve denied that they’re working on anything now, but it will be interesting to see how the OS market looks in about five or six years..
Ubuntu information courtesy of The Official Unbuntu Website (http://www.unbuntu.com) and Wikipedia entry for Unbuntu.
TUAW story courtesy of http://www.tuaw.com.