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08 October 2008, 10:32

Customers return Linux Netbooks more often

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Linux-based netbooks are more likely to be returned by consumers than their Windows based equivalents. That is the experience of MSI according to Andy Tung, who said in an interview with Laptop Magazine that their Linux netbooks are returned four times as often as Windows XP netbooks.

Canonical's Gerry Carr confirmed Andy Tung's observations and suggested that the problem might be one of "unclear selling" where customers were expecting Windows and were not prepared to learn a different operating system, and that it was not a reflection on how good or bad Linux was on the platform.

The issue may reflect a more general problem that Linux is used by manufacturers to lower the retail price of systems which do not match bargain hunters expectations. Wal-Mart launched a $200 Linux based PC in the US in 2007, but withdrew them in March this year, with a spokeswoman saying "This really wasn't what our customers were looking for."

Observers have noted that there isn't a similar "operating system shock" for customers switching from Windows to Mac OS X. The suggestion is that this difference is because the customer is actively switching operating system, rather than finding a different operating system on their new cheap computer making the customer prepared to work differently. Some suggest that education consumers about the benefits of Linux may be one approach.

Others point to retailers blurring the differences between the differences of their netbooks at different pricepoints. Whether the issue can be resolved by educating customers about Linux or by changing the way Linux netbooks are marketed is currently a topic for debate, but with the current economic situation, manufacturers will actively be looking for ways to reduce returns on their Linux netbook sales.


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