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Linux Business

Linux PCs Discontinued at Wal-Mart Stores 278

Posted by Zonk
from the we-barely-knew-ye dept.
eldavojohn writes "The $200 Linux PCs discussed earlier last year have been discontinued for sale at Wal-Mart's physical locations, though they will remain for sale at walmart.com. All this despite the systems repeatedly selling out. From the article, 'Paul Kim, brand manager for Everex, said selling the gPC online was "significantly more effective" than selling it in stores.'"
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Linux PCs Discontinued at Wal-Mart Stores

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  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:08AM (#22712640)
    I find this more interesting..

    Walmart.com now carries an updated version, the gPC2, also for $199, without a monitor. The site also sells a tiny Linux-driven laptop, the Everex CloudBook, for $399.
    I think it would sell better with a monitor but, whatever..
  • mmm yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:12AM (#22712674)
    I see were you are going with that now, replace the word "effective" with "profitable"
  • Re:No worries, mate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:28AM (#22712736)
    From the article..

    Walmart.com now carries an updated version, the gPC2, also for $199
    I assume you meant their site because you said "on walmart" not "in walmart".
  • From what I saw... (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:31AM (#22712756)
    They sold out quickly, and in fact I never saw one in a store (I'm not at Walmart often, but I called about the computers on multiple occasions). Hardly sounds like failure.
  • Re:Normal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:48AM (#22712834) Homepage
    Despite your hostile tone, I'll answer you in a civil manner: TFA says

    Paul Kim, brand manager for Everex, said selling the gPC online was "significantly more effective" than selling it in stores.
    They indeed sold out nicely online, but offline, they didn't do as well. Note that perhaps they did sell, we don't have figures, but not well enough to justify keeping them on shelves. So Wal-Mart discontinued retail sales.

    However online sales were a success, which is nice.
  • by deniable (76198) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:24AM (#22712954)
    It may be because they don't want the average Walmart employee having to sell / support Linux. We don't have any Walmarts here, but what are they like with Windows? Could they handle Linux and the type of people who buy the 'cheap' computer and then can't install their 'borrowed' copy of Office / Madden / Whatever.

    As an aside, I went and bought myself an eee PC. The sales guy was clumsily trying to explain that it didn't run Windows. He seemed relieved when I told him I knew it ran Linux and it wasn't a problem.
  • Re:Normal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:27AM (#22712966)
    On top of that I would guess that for on-line sales one doesn't need that much sales volume to make it profitable than for off-line sales. On-line a product doesn't take up shelf space, and the stock is much easier managed over say five warehouses than say five thousand shops.
    It sounds like they sold OK but not good enough to dedicate shelf space in the shops, but selling good enough online to keep selling that way.
  • Re:A thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:59AM (#22713100)
    For the risk of really running off-topic, a small anecdote regarding Linux for the user.
    I'm running a small business: I have only one staff who is not a technophobe, but all but geeky either. My computers come with Linux as I can manage that well, I just don't know Windows and don't want to learn it as Linux is working fine for me.

    So now how is she coping with Linux on the computer? No problems. She didn't realise we're not using Word but using OpenOffice.org until I mentioned it. E-mail using Evolution is also easy; I set up the accounts of course but with a little coaching setting up mail folders and the like is now also done by herself. After a few days I noticed she changed the background of the desktop, found it out herself.
    No problems with it. Not at all. I got the request from her today to set up MSN Messenger, for contact with a customer, and then told her it's there already, called GAIM. The reaction she gave when seeing all the supported protocols was "wow that's convenient, saves downloading and installing a lot of programs!"

    Linux is getting there, and is doing so quickly. I think really the main reason most people still buy Windows is mindshare. Linux is different, is scary. But for most of the users, what they do does not require ANY knowledge of the underlying system at all: they now already ask their friends to maintain their Windows. They will just have to call less frequently.

    Oh yeah and I'm also a proud owner of an EEE PC. That one I don't recommend to the casual user as it has way too many rough edges. This is not a complaint towards Linux as such but towards the UI makers that do not think of anything smaller than 1024x768 pixels. It all is just a little too much hacking.
  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:09AM (#22713356)
    Did microsoft have anything to do with this?

    In am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but have we forgotten how Microsoft became a monopoly in the first place? It bullied all its retailers to drop alternatives. On the surface this is exactly the type of press that the consumers were fed. Yet at the end of the day, no one was left standing but Microsoft, and only then did we start asking the right questions and figured out how it happened. By then it was too late.

    There are many "possible" reasons why the Linux box was dropped, and some are more convincing than others. But the bottomline is, they simply aren't telling us the sales figures, aren't revealing that there were any increases in support costs, that returns were a problem, or that Microsoft had nothing to do with it.

    All we know is that they dropped Linux, that they are a huge Windows retailer, and that some MS rep near Walmart headquarters has them on speed dial.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:58AM (#22713552)
    it seems a lot of people bought it and then promptly returned to the website to bitch it didn't come with Windows. In short: it flopped.

    That isn't in TFA. Where did you get that fact from?

  • Re:Once again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:59AM (#22713764) Homepage Journal

    They realized it was not a viable business decision and moved on.
    That doesn't sound like what happened at all.

    Since when is "selling out a product" not a viable business decision? Was their profit margin too small? Well, the answer to that might have been adding 20 bucks to the price.

    There's more here than meets the eye.
  • Re:No worries, mate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Windowser (191974) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:12AM (#22714196)

    but why is there no 'Linux Ready' logo

    Maybe it is not a logo, but the last laser printer I bought was a Samsung and one of the decisive factor was that, right there on the box, it said it worked under Linux.
    Even better, the CD in the box contained the Linux drivers.
    In the end, Samsung got my money because they decided to support Linux. And guess what brand I will be looking at first the next time I need a printer ?
  • Re:Normal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:56AM (#22714672) Homepage Journal
    I don't think it's support time; they're probably taking them out of the stores because they aren't really there to be sold, any more than you go to a department store and buy the mannequin in the clothing department.

    You have to understand the Walmart pricing strategy, which is to advertise the cheapest widget in its class to get you into the store, then up sell you when you actually compare the $99 widget advertised to the $499 widget sitting right next to it.

    While Walmart prices are competitive, they create the impression that they have the magical ability to sell widgets for hundreds of dollars less than their competitors. In fact, you can buy the $99 widget if you want to, but they're banking on the fact you'll really prefer the $499 widget. In fact, Walmart is a bit more expensive than they appear, because the $499 widget is probably a Walmart only SKU that looks comparable to the $499 widgets sold elsewhere, but has corners cut in places that don't show, like quality.

    The key is to have that one cheap SKU that will get bodies into the store, even if you have to price it so you don't make any money.

    If you believe the conventional wisdom that Linux isn't ready for ordinary desktop users, a $199 Linux desktop would appear to be a perfect item for Walmart. You advertise a $199 computer, which you can use to check your email, word processing, spreadsheets, and everything all included. You get there and it's running some weird funky operating system you've never seen, it won't run MS Office or PC games. Oh, and by the way, your ISP is not going to give you any help getting it online. But you can plunk down your money and it will do everything as advertised.

    The flaw of course, is that most people are perfectly happy with a modern Linux distribution, and they save a bundle by not having to buy an office suite. Also, many people have broadband, and ethernet support in Linux is excellent, so all they have to do is plug the thing in, unless they are using wi-fi (which is still a bit dicey depending on your adapter).

    So a few stubborn cheapskates are going to buy the $199 box, plug it in, and have it work right away. To their delight, they'll find they don't need to buy any additional software, since everything they need can be downloaded and installed in seconds, for free. Most of it is pretty good; some of it is a bit funky, but it's free and that's important. If those cheapskates are anything like the cheapskates I know, everybody they know will be hearing about the $199 ad nauseum, and Walmart will end up selling a lot of these boxes. That's not good for Walmart, because these boxes aren't in the lineup to actually be sold. They're there to sell more expensive PCs.
  • Re:Once again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:20AM (#22714906)

    My 3 years working in tech support beg to differ. Frequently (at least once or twice a week), I'd receive a call which basically boiled down to the customer being down right ticked off because they had been trying to install their printer software using the disc clearly labeled "Macintosh" on their Windows XP/Vista computer. They would then blame us because our computer was faulty, because the manufacturer of the printer told them so. I haven't worked in tech support for over a year, but I still hear my friends laughing about hours these people supposedly spend resolving issues that could have easily been solved by reading the manual, or heaven forbid... the quick start instructions designed to get you up and running in as little as possible.


    The advantage of working for one of the *big* fish, then, I guess. Customers who are that naive tend to be the ones who think that you absolutely *must* have a Dell printer if you've got a Dell computer, or HP with HP....

    I worked tech. support for Compaq for 4 years. On the Canadian Bilingual queue, we did everything... printers, computers, laptops; only networking and servers were done at a different location. Not once did I ever have a call like you're describing. About the closest to that I ever got was in the early days of Windows XP... a customer had just bought a Compaq computer after literally throwing his brand new HP out the 3rd floor window. Why? Because HP tech. support couldn't get his printer working... they hadn't come up with XP drivers for it yet. The funny part? With my supervisor's permission, I gave it a "best effort", and told him to download the Windows 2000 drivers... they worked, and his computer, printer and all, was up and running in the time it took him to download them from the website. The *truly* funny part? Shortly thereafter we were bought out by HP and my job was moved to India. Ahh, Carly Fiorina, how we love you.... >.>
  • Re:No worries, mate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by klubar (591384) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:23AM (#22714940) Homepage
    There really is a difference in quality between cheap machines and mid-priced ones. I suspect a fair number of Windows crashes are really due to hardware problems (marginal memory, bad grounding, power supply problems). These all get blamed on windows as the software reports the problem. The machine will have the same problem with linux--and the additional problem of incompatible drivers. But with linux the user will be so confused between installing the OS and the hardware that they will probably just give up.

    Once you hit mid-range prices ($750 and up) the quality of all the manufacturers becomes pretty good (better power supplies, tested memory, reliable mother boards, etc.). As you go up to the high end, you just get more features.

    Sad to say, over a fairly broad range you really do get what you pay for. Being cheap up front doesn't save money in the long run.
  • by xoundmind (932373) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:49PM (#22722490)
    Not from Wal*Mart, but straight from the dealer. I needed to set my Mom up with a new pc with wireless capabilities. Out of the box, the card didn't work and I had to install Ubuntu to get it on the network. A success story in that it worked as advertised: all of the hardware was Linux-friendly...However, the hacked up E17-based gOS was almost unusable. I had planned to erase it anyway, but wanted to check it out. I appreciate Enlightenment (and think that E17 is pretty awesome), but their port of it was NOT user friendly.
    A first-time Linux user would likely be lost with their "experience"....I'd go with Dell if you really need to verify that everything will work with Linux. (Beyond a completely home-brew machine.)

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