View Full Version : Sell Ubuntu Comptuers via retail

July 24th, 2007, 03:18 PM
I am thinking about selling Ubuntu computers via a retail store. I know there are already a bunch of "Ubuntu pre-installed" sellers on the internet but I think there are missing out on a lot of people because the vast majority of people either:
A: Have not heard of Linux, and therefore do not trust an operating system / environment that he or she has not heard of before or
B: Still think that Linux is just a command line interface with no GUI

To solve this issue, I am thinking about opening a retail store that will be similar to how the "Apple Store" operates in that people can play around with the computers before they purchase a computer. This store would probably be in a mall or someplace that gets a lot of people walking by. So my questions are:
1. What do you guys think about my idea?
2. Has any of you had any experience selling Linux computers to regular home / home office users?
3. I have made several selling points of buying this kind of computer vs. a Vista computer (ie, No spyware, free applications, better security), but can you help me brainstorm some more ideas to tell non tech-savvy people about the advantages? The biggest thing going for me is price since I went with New Egg to get the parts and I seem to be undercutting Wallmart, BestBuy and Costco for similarly configured hardware.

I made a few "demo" machines to see how some people will react. However, advertising via Craigslist and other free methods do not seem to get anybody's attention. I am a little worried that nobody is going to care about the store. If you know some people in the Manassas, VA area that would like to try/buy one, please let me know.

PS: Sorry for making this whole post sound like a lame ad.

July 24th, 2007, 03:26 PM
Hire a lot of support staff. Preferably people that do not have A+, Network+ certs, but those who have LPI, RH, or Novell certs... Or people that have played Linux admins for a company w/ large data center.

Finding cheap parts is incredibly difficult to do unless you can speak Chinese or are Michael Dell (or the CEO of HP for that matter). if you can't find cheap parts savings will be unattainable when comparing price points versus a pre-installed Vista box.

July 24th, 2007, 03:27 PM
....oh, and the ability to not legally make an Ubuntu install usable poses small issues, also.... ie: codec support, Adobe Reader & Flash install, etc.... The end user would have to do that....

July 24th, 2007, 03:44 PM
I used to build computers on the side.
It is hard to compete with the $299.00 Dells. Not much money to be made anymore.

July 24th, 2007, 05:14 PM
I think you could do it, but there is a lot involved. First it would take probably $10,000+ to get started. Get a location, advertising, pay local small business fees, register with IRS, get some demo machines ready, etc.

There are several small computer outlets all around that sell machines and do quite well. Customers like them b/c they bring their machines in local for support, instead of mailing something off to Dell in Texas, or trying to talk to someone in India who doesn't know English.

So there are many good things about a local store. But like any great idea it just takes time and money...

July 24th, 2007, 06:20 PM
Maybe you can get ahead selling low-end servers pre-installed w/ Ubuntu 6.06LTS server ed???

July 24th, 2007, 06:48 PM
I think branding would be an important factor, think about all the windows oems; hp, dell, sony etc... and how they focus on their brand and not so much on the the software brand. Do something that sets your hardware apart visually from all the other pc's. Getting a good staff is also important. Obviously you want people who are knowledgeable and know their stuff, but all that is worthless if they can't effectively communicate to the customer , which is doubly important as pretty much all your costomers will be new to ubuntu. How will you manage your employees? Do you have the skills to effectively manage them, or will you need to hire help for that? How many employees will you need, and how will you find/ train them.How will you address support? people can bring their machines in, but what about support fees or warranties how will you balance that so your customers will get the support without bankrupting you and without them feeling swindled with support fees. Codecs etc... people want functionality without worrying about breaking the law, can you find ways to purchase rights to sell w/ the codecs? Would it make more sense to partner with system76 to sell their machines? Could you do it and pull a profit? Capital, can you make a business plan that addresses all the questions so you can get a loan from a bank?

These are just some of the questions you might want to think about, it may or not be easy, but I think it is a good idea as long as you can pull it off, and remember you'll always have a community hear that will be willing to help you out. Good luck! :guitar:

July 24th, 2007, 07:01 PM
First, you could include a script to "finish the installation" for users, like a one-shot Automatix (it can be easily made with bash+Zenity, it could add MediBuntu to sources.list, install all the multimedia packages with aptitude or apt-get, and delete itself). Also, some kind of "Quickstart guide" would be useful. You could also focus on Ubuntu's benefits instead of comparing with Windows... and maybe even include the option to set up a dual boot for the price of a Vista license (just to show how much cheaper Ubuntu is).

July 24th, 2007, 08:22 PM
good thread, I've been thinking of doing some small-scale retail selling linux machines myself.