Wal-Mart stops selling Linux PCs in its stores

Cites tepid response from customers, but says Everex desktop will still be sold on its Web site

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has stopped selling Everex's Linux-based PC in its stores because of a tepid response from customers, although it will continue to sell the product online, the retailer said.

The customer response to the $199 Everex TC2502 Green gPC desktop was not as high as expected, Melissa O'Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said yesterday.

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., agreed last year to carry the product as a test and stocked it in about 600 stores where it saw high interest in computers.

"The idea was to see if shoppers in our stores would respond as they do online to the offering. The answer is that customers did not respond to expectations, so we decided not to restock," O'Brien said.

"We are America's retailer, so the decisions on what we offer in our stores [are] based on how our customers vote with their purchases," she said.

She played down the decision, which has been seen as a setback for Linux on the desktop. "We did not pull Linux from our shelves or make any kind of announcement on this," she said.

Wal-Mart has had little success in the past selling low-cost Linux PCs. It has also offered Linux-based Lindows and Microtel PCs, but the retailer eventually removed those too from its shelves.

Wal-Mart will continue to sell the Everex PC through its Web site, where the company sells products that appeal to "a more targeted consumer," O'Brien said. Wal-Mart also sells Everex's Linux-based Cloudbook notebook online.

The gPC2 desktop runs on a Via Technologies C7-D processor running at 1.5GHz, and includes 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. It does not include a monitor.

Everex said the gPC desktops had mostly sold out from Wal-Mart's shelves, with only a few units left.

"The sell-through was brisk, I am surprised at the decision," said Paul Kim, director of marketing at Everex.

Wal-Mart's decision to sell Everex notebooks and desktops online should offset any drop in sales, Kim said. Everex is also continually adding distributors to sell its products, he said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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