This month naked marketing muscle once again shows us how it should be done. In the UK, Microsoft made it to number one as the most respected and trusted brand, ahead even of Mercedes-Benz. The people have spoken.
Quite an achievement considering Vista bombed and no amount of PR power could persuade the non-OEM consumer otherwise. Now, obviously before it was too late and the Windows brand itself was damaged, Windows 7 has been released. Word is that it is OK, better even than XP.
Thus, the hiatus that may have been the golden Window of Vista opportunity for Linux on the desktop will soon be gone. The power of the 'brand' coupled with a product that actually works is hard to stop. If you think that Microsoft has done a number on the Linux netbook using venerable XP and a fat cheque book then just wait for Windows 7 to get into full swing.
Oh oh. How then can anyone say that Linux will trounce Windows on the desktop?
Branding and Dumbness
To many, possibly most, people brand image is everything. Apparently amongst a certain type of consumer 'Dolce & Gabana' stickers are a significant reason to buy articles of apparel (well certainly for Baron-Cohen's Bruno anyway). Other types, say driving their nine year old Mondeos, similarly dream to own a Mercedes... just like their local drug supplier.
Branding is expensive and very important. For example, folk will now buy Skoda cars because they know they are well engineered, good value and belong to the Volkswagen Audi group. Skoda sales-people like the SEAT sales-people remind potential customers that they are really buying an Audi at discount prices. Up-scaling a brand such as Skoda costs serious marketing money and even that required a lift up from an already long term expensively established brand (Vorsprung whatever).
Despite the best efforts of Red Hat and Ubuntu I doubt whether they have enough financial depth to build brands to rival Microsoft!
Brand buyers are acting dumb when they buy. Phrases like 'no one got fired for buying IBM' translate today to 'no one got fired for buying Microsoft'. It is shorthand for 'I know you don't understand what you are doing but if you buy X you will be OK'. Similarly Dolce & Gabana buyers may or may not have style, taste and discernment (like Bruno) but they don't need to be so blessed. They just need to buy the brand.
This begs the question though, how to get folk to buy into 'free, unbranded, open source software' (fuoss). Who buys into FUOSS?
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