Linux loses ground on netbooks -- can Android save it?

Here's more evidence that the Linux threat to Windows is over: A new study concludes that Linux is losing ground in the netbook market. When it comes to Linux on the desktop, the war is over --- unless Android comes to the rescue.

A new report about to be released from Ovum paints a dim current picture of Linux netbooks. Laurent Lachal, Ovum's Open Source Research Director concludes:

after a strong start, Linux netbooks have now been overtaken by Windows netbooks and Linux is lagging increasingly behind in terms of sales.

And that, he says, is the bright spot for Linux as a desktop operating system:

Linux's performance in the netbook segment is still outstanding compared to its overall performance in the desktop market.

Ovum's conclusion mirrors that of others. I've previously written about a survey from the research firm NPD Group that concludes Windows now has more than 90% of all netbook sales.

However, Ovum believes that there may be a niche for a new generation of even less powerful and less expensive netbooks, powered by Google's Android operating system, based on Linux. These "appliances" will often be special purpose, rather than general purpose devices. As for Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows, Ovum believes its best days are behind it. Lachal concludes:

Linux vendors should focus on the netbook as an appliance and on specialised distributions, especially Android (which is currently focused on smartphones). These are more likely than generic distributions like Ubuntu to make it in the netbook appliance/MID [mobile Internet device] space.

Even there, though, Android won't be much of a threat to Windows as a desktop operating system. As I've blogged before, when it comes to Linux on the desktop, the game is over.

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