22 May 2009

Should OQO Have Chosen GNU/Linux?

Remember OQO? It was a really innovative machine, well ahead of its time. Essentially it was a netbook before they existed, but it made one big mistake: it ran Windows XP rather than GNU/Linux (even though it was quite capable of running the latter).

This meant that it needed higher specs than a GNU/Linux machine with similar performance, and a licence from Microsoft (not a cheap one either: this was well before the GNU/Linux netbooks persuaded Microsoft to cut some deals on Windows XP). Both factors pushed up its price. That, in its turn, meant that this neat little machine never really took off - unlike the Asus Eee PCs.

The final result?


"We are sad to report that due to financial constraints, OQO is not able to offer repair and service support at this time. We are deeply sorry that despite our best intentions, we are unable to provide continued support for our faithful customers. Please accept our sincerest apologies"

It would, of course, be overly simplistic to lay to blame for OQO's problems exclusively at the door of Windows XP; but it's an interesting thought experiment to imagine a GNU/Linux-based OQO launched at Asus Eee PC price levels back in 2004. Would it have pre-empted Asus's move and cornered what became today's burgeoning netbook market? Would OQO have become one of the computer giants? We'll never know....

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.

7 comments:

Spode said...

In 2004 - was Wireless connectivity good enough on Linux? I'm not sure it was...

glyn moody said...

Maybe not, but I'm sure if that was the only thing that needed fixing, they could have....

Anonymous said...

Using a different OS would not make it popular nor sell. It was not the price that cuased OQO to go belly up, it was the lack of a real keyboard. Remember we are not talking phones but a full Windows PC and that is not useful with two thumb input. What they should have done is make it a longer clamshell that would then provide a good keyboard yet still be pocketable.

glyn moody said...

Well, the keyboards on netbooks aren't wonderful, and don't seem to have stopped their success.

Dave said...

Netbooks have keyboard that are touch type and thus people buy them. UMPC's like the OQO with thumb keys have never sold many units, remember Flipstart?

I've used netbooks and their keyboards are no different than most laptops so I do not know what you are refering to?

The bottom line is UMPC's need a touch type keyboard. Millions would sacrafice a large screen and would be ok with a smaller keyboard but it still must provide touch type input. The ideal design to copy and improve on would be the Old Psion 5mx.

glyn moody said...

Well, equally the keyboards on the G1 and iPhone aren't up to much, but people put up with them for the sake of the software.

Anonymous said...

Iphone? we are talking about a full Windows PC not a phone. A phone is ok with touch input or thumb input but that is not good enough for a full PC.

I agree OQO died due to the lack of a keyboard.