When he took the reins almost two years ago, new Novell President and CEO Ronald Hovsepian, was going to lead the charge in driving the Linux acceptance and conversion. Recently he said that the Desktop Linux market, in the next 3 to 5 years, is mainly enterprise-related and that the consumer market will take longer to develop.
While acceptance and conversion to Desktop Linux may occur more slowly in the U.S. than in other parts of the world, I think it sends a negative message for the CEO of a company that produces a product to make such a statement about that product. You don’t hear the president of the Dairy Association saying that he predicts that people are going to drink less milk. Instead, you see commercials supporting milk’s advantages and positive aspects. Have you ever seen a Linux commercial?
What, it seems, has not changed is Novell’s inability to change with a changing market. When they had the lion’s share of the server market from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, they didn’t change their strategy. They stuck with the same old tired file and printer sharing operating system that they always had. Sure, they made some improvements to it over time, but in the end, it is now thankfully extinct.
Novell has now opted to move to Linux servers, desktops, and virtualization for its bread and butter but they still haven’t changed their marketing methods. I don’t necessarily disagree with what he said but I think it was unwise to have said it. I think he should try a positive ad campaign to push his Linux Desktop OS to consumers. It’s time to change and buying SuSE Linux is only part of the equation—you’ve got to show how great Linux is and how everyone else is converting to it.