View Full Version : Professionally Marketing Ubuntu While Retaining FLOSS Philosophy

Groucho Marxist
September 15th, 2009, 02:00 AM
Quoted from a /. article regarding Microsoft paying Best Buy employees to spread false information about Linux.

Nice idea. But your "Software Freedom Day" is two weeks away, and you don't even have a proper website? That is why Windows and Mac will always win over Linux, they both have some concept of marketing. Linux struggles with marketing. Not that marketing has anything to do with the quality of software. But marketing has everything to do with people knowing about it.

The above comments from the /. poster have rekindled a deeply-rooted idea I've had regarding Linux. As a broadcasting student, promoter and salesman, I am currently refining my own repertoire of media skills in order to use them to benefit the Ubuntu brand. For the past several years, I have had a desire to craft a distinguishable and reputable brand image for, namely, Ubuntu. Furthermore, I would like to work with others towards the goal of creating awareness on the part of software consumers in the software marketplace for open source products. With these things being said, I would like to open this thread up for ideas regarding professional marketing of Ubuntu and Linux-based products.

September 15th, 2009, 02:07 AM
"Linux struggles"?

September 15th, 2009, 02:15 AM
As a matter of practicality, I don't see how Linux will ever enjoy the level and degree of marketing it needs and that is required for recognition. Linux is not a commercial product. Moreover, it is not even one single product, but a continuous flow of iterations of multitudes of software components.

I've said it before and I will say again here that Mark at Canonical needs to come around to the notion that proper marketing of Ubuntu is not being done and that it needs to be done. He needs to have Google and Mozilla and even Sun and Oracle get in the act and help broaden the sense of legitimacy in the industry for Linux.

This is more than just crafting a brand and doing a bit of advertising. There is a matter of philosophy and big-players involvement here without which there isn't going to be much to say to the typical computer user which, frankly, Apple can't already basically claim with Mac OS X.

In addition, much of the philosophy of F/OSS is so utterly alien to most people I can't imagine trying to market on that basis (or including it somehow) will be that appealing. Most people don't delve into the minutia of things, and tons more don't have any interest in the politics of Open Source vs. Proprietary. They just want "their f'in x or y or z to work" and if Open Source means going without or getting by with less, then Open Source will have to get by without them being a part of it.

That being said, in the present format, I think we're doing fairly well. Besides, I am also (based on experience) dead against trying to quickly and artificially jump up your customer numbers. It is far better they grow organically and naturally and over time, because that's the ultimate test for stability of the community and loyalty of the base.

September 15th, 2009, 04:04 AM
Why do you want to market Ubuntu and/or linux?

September 15th, 2009, 04:41 AM
Why do you want to market Ubuntu and/or linux?

Good marketing should get more people using Linux (yes, I know that's just the kernel, replace 'Linux' with 'Your favorite Distro' if you prefer).

That implies:
* Hardware manufactures might -officially- support their products under Linux by providing drivers/support/etc.
* Software manufactures (especially commercial ones) might consider porting their software by creating Linux versions.
* More users probably means greater contributions (better documentation, more bug fixes, etc.)
* More competition (PCs running Linux on BestBuy might be normal), and competition is good for consumers.
* etc.

September 15th, 2009, 06:36 AM
Servers running Linux on BestBuy are normal (http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph?site=www.bestbuy.com)


September 15th, 2009, 08:33 AM
I'm considering a dual-major in Marketing and Computer Science because it seems like business people and computer people have a lot of common interests but not a lot of common ground. You can't expect a programmer to know about the concepts of product, price, place, and promotion and how they all work together to make a marketing plan work, and they shouldn't have to, that's a marketers job. By the same token you can't expect a marketer to understand the importance of a stable backend for a GUI-based application when all they will ever see is the GUI, and they shouldn't have to, that's the programmer's job.

You've already got a good product (Ubuntu) at a good price (free) available in the right place (online), so three of the four Ps of marketing are out of the way. The problem with a marketing plan for Ubuntu is that there is very little money for promotion. Advertising is expensive, there is no question about that, and I doubt Canonical is going to suddenly spend a quarter of their revenue on TV ads.

To get something like this off the ground you'd need thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Personal selling with trade-shows and talking to executives (assuming you could even get an appointment) is only going to get you so far. You need mass marketing to turn Ubuntu into a household name. That means TV, radio, billboards, Internet ads. Think "Bing" advertising: tons of ads all at once just to get the name out. Microsoft spent millions on advertising for Bing and the same would need to be done for Ubuntu to make sure that a large portion of the population knew about it. Also, you'd want to have a website to direct these people to, but the current Ubuntu site assumes you already know what the heck Ubuntu is when you get there. You'll need to make a new site "whatisubuntu.com" or something that will give people basic information about Ubuntu and tell them how to get it. The site needs to be well laid out and very clear, so you'd want a test audience to figure out how well it works and testing something like that will set you back thousands of dollars more.

There are many factors to consider, but I'm all for more promotion for Ubuntu. You need money, though. No question about it.

September 15th, 2009, 08:50 AM
Marketing implies selling and you can't market something people can get for free.. but they do market water, don't they?... flavors, nutrients, easy to hold bottles etc. In order to 'sell' Ubuntu, It's going to need a catchier, more modern savy-sounding name and celebrity endorsements and youtube videos that aren't just completely geeky. It's going to need a perceived plus factor over regular store-bought operating systems. And why would anybody spend so much money to advertise when there is so little money to be made?.. at least without extra-added ingredients that can be patented, licensed and trademarked.

September 15th, 2009, 08:17 PM
Maybe the companies behind the major distros could pool money to make a TV advertisement for Linux, that might be cool.

September 15th, 2009, 08:25 PM
Besides, I am also (based on experience) dead against trying to quickly and artificially jump up your customer numbers. It is far better they grow organically and naturally and over time, because that's the ultimate test for stability of the community and loyalty of the base.

I agree with the above. I'm as much for advocating Linux on the desktop as the next person on these forums, but, if we try to force people into using it, you're pretty much guaranteed to have more people with bad experiences. Thus, more reactions like "I'm never trying that operating system again!"

September 15th, 2009, 08:35 PM
I imagine everyone has checked out the We're Linux commercial winner from earlier this year... I thought that was well done.

For those that are unfamiliar there are links from the announcement:http://www.linuxfoundation.org/news-media/announcements/2009/04/linux-foundation-announces-%E2%80%9Cwe%E2%80%99re-linux%E2%80%9D-winner (http://www.linuxfoundation.org/news-media/announcements/2009/04/linux-foundation-announces-%E2%80%9Cwe%E2%80%99re-linux%E2%80%9D-winner).

More pieces like that would be nice as they take the issue on from a slightly deeper P.O.V. I have no talent for this sort of thing, though, so I'll just wait to see what y'all come up with ;)