Memo to Dell: Sort Out Your Ubuntu Strategy
Dell’s Ubuntu strategy once again faces Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). Multiple times in the past 12 months or so, Dell’s strong Ubuntu efforts have been undermined by disappearing desktop offerings. Here’s what’s wrong — and right — with Dell’s Ubuntu initiatives.
Let’s start with the positive. In Dell’s defense, the company in mid-2007 took a major chance on Ubuntu. The same year Microsoft launched Windows Vista, Dell stepped up and introduced its first Ubuntu desktops. I was among the first buyers, and I still own the Dell Ubuntu system.
Fast forward to 2009, and Dell continued to introduce new Ubuntu systems even as Microsoft launched Windows 7. Again, Dell stood by Ubuntu amid a major Microsoft upgrade cycle. That took guts.
Same Story, New Year
Still, Dell continues to make glaring Ubuntu missteps. In 2009, Dell’s desktop Ubuntu offerings briefly disappeared from the company’s U.S. website during a product transition. And more recently, the same problem has occurred again. The move prompted the following completely misleading headline from InfoWorld on Feb. 8, 2010:
Among the big PC vendors, no company has done more than Dell to promote Ubuntu. And if Infoworld had bothered to check www.dell.com/ubuntu, they’d see Ubuntu systems available — though admittedly, the list currently lacks desktops.
Alas, Dell deserves some criticism. During recent hardware transitions, it seems like Dell’s U.S. website temporarily halts Ubuntu desktop preloads. The resulting media coverage is giving Dell and the Ubuntu community black eyes.
Small system builders like System76 and ZaReason earn considerable praise for their Ubuntu efforts. Dell would earn similar praise if the company managed to keep Ubuntu available on desktops during product transitions. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.