Linux in Western Europe – the Chicken and the Egg, according to IDC

COPENHAGEN — According to the latest research from IDC, Western European Linux users are concentrating on what is actually available and are buying into the Web- and network-related offerings of the Linux industry – at very cheap prices. Few are planning for more expensive, complex solutions in the near future while the industry awaits a demand pull before developing solutions and committing to the Linux environment. This has lead to a chicken and egg situation, in which the Linux industry may suffer lack of sufficient funding to continue the development of future solutions.


"Users are attracted to Linux for its cost effectiveness and malleability for specific-purpose devices, both client and server," said Kirsten Ludvigsen, director of IDC's European Unix, Client Server, and Workstation research.

"However, the lack of available applications and perceived lack of service and support offerings are major inhibitors to this market's growth." IDC believes the main question is whether users will buy into the Open Source development model with no future roadmap, economically unstable players, and a current lack of specific types of applications.

Western European Linux Industry Drivers and Inhibitors

* The viability of Linux has been strengthened by the entrance of the major IT players with other likely supporters to be found in the telecommunications and media industries.

* The development model has been stabilized by the Linux Free Standards organization.

* Developmental efforts are concentrated on embedding Linux into a slew of client and server devices as well as devices outside the traditional IT user base, such as in cars and cable TV appliances.

* Linux's development continues to be, and is expected to remain, a no roadmap exercise.

* Development on bringing Linux into the commercial server space is still a long way off in terms of scalability, reliability, and availability features.

* Other device platform manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Symbian are heavily committed to the embedded device market.

Taking account of these factors, IDC believes that the major areas of deployment of Linux will be in the embedded or appliance space for both clients and servers during the forecast period. Growth of the Linux industry will be primarily driven from Germany and the Nordic countries. "Clients will have many forms and shapes, and we believe smart handheld devices and cable TV devices will be the major areas of growth for Linux in Western Europe," Ludvigsen concluded.

Linux: What's the Use? Western Europe 1999-2004 (IDC #N01G) depicts emerging Linux usage as well as the Linux industry in Western Europe. The report also reviews and forecasts the spread of Linux on the client and server sides by country. This special report is available to purchase from your local IDC office.

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