TORONTO (11/27/2003) - Lindows.com Inc. last week announced an aggressive push into the Canadian market beginning with plans to sell 30,000 of its low-cost PCs to users in eastern Canada, followed by a move west.
Lindows is a Linux-based operating system that is graphically similar to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, which the company says is inexpensive relative to Windows and is ideal for beginners through to expert users.
In partnership with the South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA), Lindows.com has set up an office in Yarmouth, N.S.
Peter Dugas, chief technology officer at the SWSDA, has been put on secondment to Lindows.com and will act as its director of international governmental relations to help negotiate sales and trade issues between Lindows.com and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and resellers.
Talks began between Lindows.com and the SWSDA in May 2003 after Lindows.com's founder and CEO, Michael Robertson, delivered the keynote speech at the South West Nova Scotia IT Expo.
"He got a tremendous response from the public coming in," said Dugas. "I guess the main attraction was that (Lindows) is an alternative to a Windows operating system. It was more economical and you can do just as much in different ways, and for the home user, these were prime incentives for them."
Attendance at the Expo was initially projected to be in the 500 to 600 range, but it turned out that almost 1,500 people showed up. That's where Dugas' interest in Lindows began.
Right now Lindows.com is looking to break into the home user and government markets before targeting the enterprise.
The province of Nova Scotia is currently beta-testing Lindows WebStations at four of its Regional Community Access Program centers, which are places where citizens can gain computer and Internet access for free.
However, before Lindows.com makes significant inroads into Canada, the company needs to create more partnerships with OEMs and resellers. The company is in talks with three possible resellers but is remaining mum about the details, Dugas said.
So far in Canada Lindows is sold only in two locations: on the Web through Toronto-based Sub500.com, and through Morcor Computers in St. Catharines, Ontario. Users in Canada can expect to buy Lindows PCs elsewhere once Lindows has signed up more resellers.
At Sub500.com the desktop retails at C$379.99, the laptop at C$1,049.99 and a thin-client business station at C$249.99. There is also a thin-client Lindows WebStation available, which has a suggested price of US$169, according to Lindows.com.
A Lindows 4.0 license itself can be bought for US$49.95 directly from Lindows.com, and users can also purchase any of the approximately 1,700 applications for Lindows directly from the company.
As for whether or not Lindows.com can make significant inroads into desktop computing in Canada, that remains to be seen.
Eddie Chan, research analyst, mobile and personal computing at IDC Canada Ltd., said Linux on the desktop is currently so rare in Canada that is not yet tracked by IDC, and that Canada is lagging in adoption behind the U.S. He said most Linux desktop users are generally still running dual-boot PCs with Windows as well.
He added there are still so many flavors of Linux out there that there is no clear picture of which vendor will win out on the Linux desktop, or whether Linux will ever become pervasive in that market. But while the cost of Windows remains high, he can see Linux being attractive to users, especially in the government market.