WalMart Ditches In-Store Linux PCs
After just four months, Wal-Mart has abandoned its once-promising Linux-based PC experiment. Although no longer available for sale in stores, the company will continue to retail these systems through its website.
The 'gPC' made by Everex cost just $199, largely because the firm didn't have to pay licensing fees to Microsoft. Linux is an open-source operating system which is free to download and modify. Many of its users find and share ways to improve the system.
A spokeswoman said the model was more popular among online buyers. That's likely because Linux is generally used by people who are fairly confident about technology and it wouldn't necessarily appeal to in-store shoppers who might be more familiar with Windows and Apple's Mac systems.
Originally, the firm said it had sold out of the in-store gPCs, but later seemed hazy about this claim.
The gPC model only shipped to around a tenth of Wal-Mart's 6,800 stores, with some outlets only getting a single unit. It had a fairly low-spec 512MB of memory and 80 GB hard drive and came without a monitor.
Wal-Mart's website now retails three Linux-based machines, two laptops and the newer gPC2 desktop. (Source: informationweek.com)
Linux only appears on about 1% of all desktop computers. Fans believe it may become more popular on smaller laptops, such as the CloudBook, because it runs well even on machines with limited memory and disk space. (Source: desktoplinux.com)
There are plenty of people who believe Linux is a better performing, more reliable operating system than Windows. However, it's still beyond the technical reach of many (if not most) users, which means it's simply not viable for in-store retail. In particular, it was a bad fit for Wal-Mart stores; although the chain usually prefers low-price goods, the stores make their money by stocking items that have a low profit margin but sell in bulk.
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