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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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  • Normal (Score:5, Informative)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:05AM (#22712620)
    Don't Walmart bring products in and out all the time, I fail to see the "omg linux failure" here..
    • Re:Normal (Score:5, Informative)

      by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:16AM (#22712692) Homepage

      Don't Walmart bring products in and out all the time
      That is very true. In addition, the point of the article is that on-site sales were poor, but on the other hand online sales were successful enough for Wal-Mart to continue selling Linux PCs, currently the gPC 2 and the CloudBook.

      Bottom line, walk-in customers at Wal-Mart weren't into these products, but more tech-savvy people that buy online form a sufficient market for Wal-Mart to serve. What is important about the latter fact is that it means Wal-Mart will be ready to supply demand should desktop Linux become more mainstream.
      • by Excelsior (164338)
        Where did you get that information? I'm guessing you made it up, because in store models were reportedly selling out.
        • Re:Normal (Score:5, Interesting)

          by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:48AM (#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.
          • Re:Normal (Score:5, Insightful)

            by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:54AM (#22712860) Homepage Journal
            Umm, dude, you're still not getting it. They sold out both online and in stores. The most likely reason that Wal-Mart is pulling these from the store is that they are getting too much interest and tying up staff. Customer service is suffering as a result. If Wal-Mart hires more staff that will increase the cost of the product and may decrease the demand, resulting in an elastic effect on sales.. so it is easier to pull the product from stores and require customers to buy it online where they won't be tying up customer service agents.
            • You make a good point, I didn't think about that. Yeah, that might be the case here.

              I wonder if we can find out somehow what Wal-Mart's reasons were (probably not, sadly).
            • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:48AM (#22713520) Homepage Journal
              It isn't about customer service. The most valuable asset in the physical store is shelf space. The profit margin on these cannot be that much, let alone to the profits to be made filling shelves with more game cartridges.

              Remember back to the stories about Wal-Mart's push into CFLs and how the person at Wal-Mart pushing these had to make a case to get shelf space. They had to present a case and prove themselves.

            • The only references I've seen to them selling out are in the online stores, not physical. Physical stores came /close/ to selling out leading up to Christmas due to limited initial shipments, but I suspect that trend did not continue - or they would not be discontinuing the item. I think it extremely unlikely that there are throngs of people waiting to buy linux PCs in the stores, and simply requiring too much time of the poor, beleaguered employees. On the other hand, that mental image is good for a c
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Foolicious (895952)

              Umm, dude, you're still not getting it.
              Why do people always type (write) the words "ummm" and/or "errr" to make a point when posting? In the spoken word, "umm" is generally a filler used to buy time as you formulate what to say. It's generally considered a bad habit if you use it too much, akin to saying "like" all the time. But you don't need to do that when you write because you can simply pause and stop typing. So why do people do that?
          • Re:Normal (Score:5, Insightful)

            by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:58AM (#22712870) Journal
            A computer takes up a lot more shelf space than, say, an mp3 player or mobile phone. Indeed, it's price density is lower than most of the items in the store, save maybe housewares. Pillows and comforters do take up a large volume.

            More importantly, at $200 for a PC, it's profit margin had to be quite a bit lower than any of those things. I'd bet that even selling like hotcakes it would be one of the least efficient items in the store, in terms of profit per square foot.
            • ...not sure how walmart handles these, but although they take up a lot of shelf space on the shelves in the stores, they tend to be vacuum-packed and sealed on the shelves in storage. All the shelf-stocker staff has to do is rip a sticker off to let air in and vavoom.. fluffy pillow/comforter.

              And yes, this is indeed very similar to those annoying home-shopping commercials where you can actually buy bags that work much the same where you stick your own vacuum cleaner on top of some manner of valve.
          • by Excelsior (164338)
            The article cleary states they sold out of in store stock. You have stated otherwise more than once. Sorry if I sound hostile.
            • First, apologies if I misunderstood your tone before.

              Well, I am no retailer, but even if stock is sold, it depends how fast it sells and so forth. Online it sold quite briskly we are told. Perhaps it took much much longer to sell out in retail, so much so that it doesn't make sense to continue. That is the gist of TFA as I read it, but I could be wrong.
              • by Gerzel (240421)
                In walmart terms selling out probably means the store going out of stock, considering how fast the supply chain works for Walmart that probably means fairly brisk or at least better than expected sales.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by wvmarle (1070040)
            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.
          • Makes you wonder. I heard that Walmart stores were selling out of them in about 3 days. If so, and if they really do sell faster online, then they must be moving a *lot* of them online!
        • why is this marked "troll"? The post he is replying to might sound good but is questionable in its accuracy, and there should be more people questioning accuracy than marking questionable information "informative".
    • What percentage of their Windows machine lines have they cut? Compare with the percentage of their Linux machine lines they've cut (100%). There's the failure of Linux.

      In fact, the mere fact that there are far more Windows machines than Linux machines shows that Linux is failing (as a mainstream desktop OS), but this is another nail in its coffin.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)
        If you RTFA you'd realise they've introduced one new Linux desktop gOS v2 and a Linux laptop.. How is that "cut (100%)" ?
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:08AM (#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 @02:12AM (#22712674)
    I see were you are going with that now, replace the word "effective" with "profitable"
  • A thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:31AM (#22712754) Journal

    Paul Kim, brand manager for Everex, said selling the gPC online was "significantly more effective" than selling it in stores.
    From my experiences online, it seems like there's a higher percentage of geeks with significant problems with Wal-Mart than there is in the rest of the population. Is it possible that that had an effect?

    In any case, I think part of the problem is that most people I know wouldn't envision Wal-Mart as a PC retailer. Be it my computer-illiterate neighbor whose spyware I'm constantly removing or my grandparents who only use their computer for occasional e-mail, I'd bet the majority would go to an electronics store like Best Buy or Circuit City over a general retailer like Wal-Mart for a purchase that big. Wal-Mart may not be a bad place for cheap groceries or clothing, but the employees there won't know jack about the computers they're selling...and even if that's also true at the local electronics chain store, the perception that they know at least something about computers can make all the difference.
    • Re:A thought (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @03:59AM (#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 kklein (900361)

        Okay, so your point is that, with the help of a very knowledgeable system administrator, anyone can use Linux comfortably?

        I'm not really trying to be a jerk, but... Yes, that's exactly what you're saying, whether you realize it or not.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)
          The exact same accounts for anyone using Windows or whatever O/S as well. Many administer their computers themselves, but even more (partners, children of the owner; people who ask a friend/relative) need someone else to do that for them.
          • by kklein (900361)

            True indeed. But finding Windows people is very easy. Not so much for Linux people. Not so much for MacOS people either (recently moved to Mac--for VMware Fusion as much as OSX!--but I don't think I would have if I didn't have a cadre of graphics, etc. friends to field my "hey, how do I..." questions).

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              (From your sig:)

              >Ubuntu 7.10 was the first Linux install I've ever done that worked! (Now what do I do with it?)

              Replace it with Gentoo.

        • by oliderid (710055)
          I'm no sysadmin, I'm a programmer. I hate configuring things :-).

          I was truly surprised how easy it was to set up a samba server for the OpenSuse desktops...The only thing I had to do manually was the password file (if I remember well). I'm not expert in LAN technologies but I didn't find it more difficult than the Microsoft server I had to configure years ago for the same task.

          My company is quite small but we've got 4 desktop pc running OpenSuse (development mainly. Build by a local shop and one dual boot t
  • The summary makes it sound kinda squishy, though Wal-Mart was pretty clear:

    Computers that run the Linux operating system instead of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows didn't attract enough attention from Wal-Mart customers, and the chain has stopped selling them in stores, a spokeswoman said Monday.
    "This really wasn't what our customers were looking for," said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.

    The "repeatedly sold out" link is a little misleading, too. It isn't exactly a solid list of endorsements --

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      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?

      • Here [wtop.com]

        It does sound like many in-store customers, who probably have zero knowledge of computers and have only brand recognition to guide them, simply wern't going to take a punt on an unknown brand. Perhaps some also returned them after discovering that they wouldn't run Word or play some games.

        Online, however, you can phone a relative, or ask someone knowledgeable before buying, and its not a wasted trip to the store.

  • by deniable (76198) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @03:24AM (#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.
    • I think if you asked a Walmart employee for help with your system you'd get laughed out of the store. (okay, so they'd probably saay to call HP or Everex or whoever) Returns were probably a bitch though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by raehl (609729)
      We don't have any Walmarts here, but what are they like with Windows?

      I don't think any Wal-Marts have windows. Just brick all around, glass doors in the front, and some loading docks.
    • Having a Wal-Mart as the ONLY place for electronics in my town, and having even worked there at one point in my life, I must say I think a lot of people on here must never have been to one. For starters, there is no "support" or training at Wal-Mart. Stuff comes in on a pallet, they set it in the floor in the middle of the night, and someone stocks the shelf. If you are lucky enough to find an employee in the day time, about the best you will get from them is where the product is located. That is how they k
  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:09AM (#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 Arimus (198136)
      Err???

      They've not dropped linux they've just stopped selling it in their stores. Oh and not letting facts get in the way of a good /. story they've also stopped selling all others in their stores as well.

      • Yup. And no one ever really dropped Linux... it just isn't in stores... exactly.

        But I am not drawing any conclusions. There simply isn't enough information or evidence to draw anything. But suspicion? Why most definitely.

        "This really wasn't what our customers were looking for," said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.

        Is it just me or does this quote sound like a spoonfed excuse made up by an MS rep?! It is EXACTLY what MS would want WalMart to say. Something along the lines of: "Linux is not right for you, but Windows is."

        On the other hand, if this doesn't have to do with MS, then I would be even more

    • "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."

      Normally, I'd be right there with you on this. However, regardless of how many Windows computers Walmart sells, the company is very diversified in its sales and does not depend on Windows for profitability. I think that computer sales are not any more significant a revenue stream for Walmart than any other single department, and is probably insignificant to
  • From the specs, and the reviews I've read, it was a lousy computer. When you put Linux on a lousy computer, you have...a lousy computer with Linux it.

    I don't understand why so many in the Linux community were pleased by this. Having Linux associated with low-end machines that people buy because they can't afford what the really want does not help Linux. We shouldn't be promoting Linux as the OS for those who have to settle for less.

  • by JetScootr (319545) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:15AM (#22713814) Journal
    The "Linare" linux distro on it did NOT include gcc (or any compiler), the only drivers for its modem and NIC were partial source for WINDOWS drivers. Their tech support was one guy who was obviously NOT in the US. He had to "call his supervisor" cuz he didn't know what Linux was or why windows drivers wouldn't work with it. After several phone calls, he email me a broken rpm file. I loaded Knoppix, got it working fine and overwrote "Linare". A coupla months later, the power caps popcorned.
  • but the store did not have any in stock. It is difficult to sell what you do not stock.

    Did Walmart really want to sell the Linux PCs in the first place? If they did, then why were the Linux PCs so hard to find at Walmarts?

  • by xoundmind (932373) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:49PM (#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.)
  • Lack of demand (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:42PM (#22723466) Homepage Journal
    This article [guardian.co.uk] quotes a Wal-Mart spokesperson as saying it was due to lack of demand. Hey, don't blame me, I'm just posting a link and summarizing it.

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