Stop the Noiz

Glimmers of Innovation in a World of Copycat PCs

Frank Fox - 2008.06.10 - Tip Jar

What is this world coming to? Has the PC world finally started to wake up?

First there was the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child, now called the XO) that sparked ASUS to try it hand at a miniature, low-cost notebook (the Eee PC). This spark of innovation has every computer maker in the world (except Apple) trying to imitate its success and bring out its own mini-notebook.

Now Acer is switching to Linux to create prices that simply aren't possible with Windows.

I feel like Superman visiting Bizarro World. (Not because I am like Superman, but because of how unusual the news is.) I've claimed that PC makers were lacking in innovation, but suddenly I find them doing just what they should. Kudos to ASUS and Acer - good luck staying ahead of the competition.

That is the bad news and probably the reason why there is so little innovation. These smaller companies can come out with something new and hope to gain a little market share. Next thing they know, Dell will be showing off its next line of computers that will look and sound suspiciously like what these guys are offering.

That's the problem with generic hardware and standardized software: Anybody can do it. Taking the risk of being the first to try is the hard part. Once Dell sees that there is a market, they take little risk in bringing out a competing model.

The good news is that Microsoft won't like it if Dell cozies up to Linux too much. Microsoft is bound to offer a deal that Dell can't refuse. That will help keep Dell out of the way for a while so Acer can grow its brand a little.

Acer's biggest risk is growing too fast. Dell won't be able to resist quick short-term profit, and they'll just ignore Microsoft's arm-twisting. Slow, steady growth should go less noticed by Dell and others.

I have just one piece of advice for Acer. "If you are going to take Vienna, then make damn sure you take Vienna." Translation: Check that there will be a market for Linux computers, then go all the way and do what you set out to do. LEM

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