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What Ubuntu Can Take Away From The Raspberry Revolution

While the $25 Raspberry Pi is turning a million eyeballs, Canonical’s incessant attempts at conquering non-Ubuntuers don’t seem to be working out as hoped or planned.

Even though Shuttleworth, Canonical’s benevolent dictator, has decided to go all out in order to reach his 200-million mark as early as possible, the efforts are still visibly falling short. The recent announcements including Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu for Android have created some buzz among the non-Linuxiens, it’s still nothing compared to what Raspberry Pi has achieved in such a short span of time.

Not only has Raspberry given users an affordable computer, it also has started a revolution like the iPad did with tablets. And, instead of looking at TVs, tablets, and smartphones, this is the model Ubuntu should look to emulate rather than running around in a thousand directions.

Affordable computing: A failure so far

When it comes to cheap, affordable computing, there hasn’t been much success so far. That does not mean that there haven’t been any efforts in this department; on the contrary, many vendors, and even governments have tried to come out with cheap, affordable computers that are accessible to all. However, those efforts haven’t been as successful as Raspberry Pi, which, has now been deemed as BBC Micro 2.0. For example, Indian government did come up with the $35 Aakash tablet but that didn’t live up to the expectations of the consumers, and furthermore, it was buried in problems like poor memory and a lack of proper support infrastructure. The Raspberry Pi however, has managed to spark a revolution for Linux like the iPhone did for Apple. Okay, well, maybe not on that big a scale but nonetheless, it has still managed to create ripples in the stagnant pond of desktop Linux.

Raspberry Pi: This changes everything

Forget the cynics, but even the ones who’re deeply involved in the technology industry believe that the age of the desktop is over, and that the penguin will never take flight in this domain. Raspberry Pi challenges this notion by bringing the desktop to a market which has always been ignored by companies like Apple and Microsoft. Even Canonical, which seemed to have shifted their focus from desktop to mobile, believe that the tablet, TV, and mobile is the market to target. However, Raspberry approaches a market that most people never thought of, thus reminding people that Linux is not dead.

Canonical, if it’s listening, should take cues from this success story and try to come up with its own affordable computer. Maybe not a $25 device, even a fully-functional $100 single-board computer will sell like hot pancakes instead of banking on the bloating and competitive TV, mobile, and tablet market.

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Is there a market for Ubuntu?

Yes indeed; there is a huge market for Canonical in this department. If they build a simple, single-board device with Ubuntu loaded on it and sell it at less than $100, there’s very little doubt that it will sell like hot pancakes. The advantage Canonical will have over Raspberry in this department is the fact that Ubuntu’s branding as well as its easy-to-use interface will gain more adoption than any other distribution. Moreover, Ubuntu is used by many governments already, making it easy for them to distribute the device to schools and colleges who cannot afford computing. Having said that, it seems rather unlikely that Ubuntu will ever target this sector. It’s focus seems to be fixed on the higher end of the consumer spectrum, that is mobiles, TVs, and tablets.

What do you think?

So, what do you think? Will an Ubuntu-branded $100(or less) single-board device spell success to Canonical? Or will it just fizzle out?



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.