IDC Says Linux Will Overtake Mac OS By 2005, At The Latest

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    Posted: 19 December 2002 11:38 AM

    There’s an article about iSync at ZDNet that includes an interesting quote from IDC (see our full coverage for more information).  That quote basically says:

    [quote author=“Nimrod”]“Certainly by…2005, possibly by the end of 2003, Linux will pass Mac OS as the No. 2 operating environment,” said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky.

    While some among us (I’m looking at you, Nico) will see this as justification of their losing cause, I personally think it’s preposterous.  What do you think?


    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 12:22 PM #1

    Yes, no . . . maybe so

    IDC is a joke for starters. 

    According to most /.‘ers Linux has *already* overtaken Mac OS. (that I do not believe) Usually siting IDC as the source for this disinformation.

    Because Linux is the media darling, in recent years is has a LOT of people switching over;  BUT I would wager to say over half dump it within a year (siting myself, not IDC).  But I suppose there is no way to *really* know.

    Mac OS X Servers GROWTH RATE (not installed base before some stallmanite flames me) is currently greater than Linux’s in server/IT land, the question here is will XServe sales fizzle out or continue or even maybe increase?

    As far as HOME/DESKTOP use goes, its my personal belief that unless their are *MAJOR* fundemental changes in the way the Linux community and Linux companies do business and if their products (distros) do not improve (that doesn’t mean more eye candy) the home Linux market is 99%saturated right now.

    Now?  Is MACs increasing in sales?  I don’t know?  I do know that USED Mac’s are still sold for (ridiculous) high prices on web stores, mom-and-pop shops and even eBay.  Mac’s used market STILL retains its value, which shows me that MACs are still in great demand, and Apple sales of new machines have to be at least range from good to great.

    We’ll see.  *I* don’t think Linux will overtake MacOS on the desktop EVER - but who the hell am I?  I *DO KNOW* that I would never take ANYTHING IDC says too seriously, as they are usually full of more $h!- than a Christmas turkey.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 01:02 PM #2

    I must not get out much or something, but I have yet to EVER see a computer running Linux anywhere I’ve been or worked. From my perspective it has as much market penetration as the Commodore Pet. Perhaps because i don’t work in an IT dept I don’t see them. They must be assuming that more people than the installed base of mac users will become programmers and network adinistrators by 2005. typical PR agency drivel.


    Less is More (more or less).

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 01:03 PM #3

    Linux is missing 2 things to over take Mac OS X.

    1. An easy to use GUI front end that is on par with Mac OS X or Win XP

    2. Commercial Apps.  Not GNUs and others that the geeks like.  I’m taking about Photoshop, Quark, Office on the upper level and stuff like PrintShop, MS Publisher, and others on the low end.  Games too. 

    Sure Linux is fun.  I’ve played with it, used it for about 6 months.  But I got tried of not having Apps to do things, or if I found one having to go through the troubles of installing it.  For some Linux is very powerful and useful, but it is nowhere near the useablity level of Mac OS X or Win XP.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 03:10 PM #4

    Linux isn’t meant for the desktop

    To quota a few of my friends on their views of LINUX…

    (and I know I posted one of these in a different thread somewhere)

    [[[There’s a lot more to a desktop platform than just the OS; it’s the entire infrastructure that matters. A solid desktop OS needs all manner of support from font foundries, file conversion utilities, installers and a general ability to open and work with documents across all other platforms in friendly fashion.

    In general, my personal experience has been fairly grim when it comes to these issues. OS X provides an answer to all this that is so strong that the question of desktop LINUX has gone from “How?” to “Why?”  Those who like X86 boxes will slide glacier-like to Windows while the independent folks will tend to Macintosh, OS X and a mainstream Unix with a robust interface and mature applications.]]] - Del Miller, Aerospace Engineer

    [[[Linux, and Unix interfaces in general are designed by committee. Large groups of people hashing, arguing, testing ideas, until they get the one that they can all agree on.

    Examples of this are: KDE CDE OpenWindows WorkPlace Shell Gnome Windows…

    All of them horrid.

    To design a good interface, you need talent, but you also need vision. Committees never have vision. They have meetings. ]]] - John C. Welch

    [[[There’s sort of a fallacy with LINUX. LINUX never has been, and never will be a viable consumer desktop. To be such, it would have to be designed for the consumer.

    LINUX is what it has always been—a reasonable implementation of a UNIX based operating system, that is not bad as a low-end server (that has grown into the mid-end—and may someday grow higher). It is not a bad foundation to build a turnkey system for some enterprises to use (as turnkey solutions go. IBM?). But that is not the same as “consumer desktop”.

    The ultimate operating system is not a command line with a thin graphics shell on top. So, LINUX has never really been anything close to a desktop solution (let alone a consumer desktop solution) by anyone but the completely self-deluded. ]]] -  David K. Every

    [[[OSX is already the unit leader in terms of a UNIX distribution, BUT… Other people that rely on UNIX (corporate entities et. al.) are learning that IT IS ALREADY THE INTERFACE LEADER as well. And this is 12 months out of the gate. Jaguar looks to fix/improve many things… And in another 12-18 months, I think it will be the standard by which most UNIXXES are measured… OSX delivers today on what LINUX has been promising for 10 years… ]]] - Dave K. Every

    So, the larger picture shows that people simply don’t trust Linux as a viable solution. Sure, People will always mess around with it and there will always be open-source development and such, but in the end, I’m not convinced that these people and organizations are going to trust it enough to switch their entire computer base over to it. Simply put, it isn’t what Linux was intended for and there are just too many additional hurdles to clear before any of this can even begin to to sound viable.

    Ed M.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 03:58 PM #5


    I know I have downloaded plenty of Unix operating systems in my years.  I believe I started on linux during the .9*pla stages.  Long before version 1 came out.

    If they are counting downloads, then I am sure Linux has been downloaded a time or two.  I have used linux as my primary operating system from time to time.  However, in the end I uninstalled it due to the amateurish GUI.  I have installed everything from Slackware to RedHat.  After a while, I just hate the damn interface and decide to move on.

    That being said, and my first Unix operating system being SVr4 on an Amiga, I believe that Apple has hit the nail on the head in delivering the first truly desktop oriented Unix.  By desktop, I imply using office productivity, games and easy to use and configure software.  To be honest, I didn’t know Unix could be this good.

    I bought into Apple’s switch campaign because I tired of the M$ way of doing things.  I tired of linux because of constant “tweaking” and lack of drivers. Sure you can install Linux on everything, but why? smile

    BTW, I did own a Zaurus SL-5000 for a while.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 04:18 PM #6

    Linux for me is a “hobby” OS. I like to mess around with it. I don’t see it overtaking OS (X, 11, 12, 13, or whatever) at anytime in the future. Open source is great, but it’s mostly for geeks (I am one, so don’t anyone get offended).

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 04:19 PM #7

    No offense meant to you here Bryan, but you did ask what we thought…

    I don’t care. Not one little bit. Why should I?

    Linux can take over the number one spot and I won’t care. I say this because it won’t be displacing any of the Mac market. It simply won’t affect Mac users very much.

    I personally don’t need to hear about what “place” my computer brand is running in the market to know that I made the right choice. It’s not like olympic medals are being given out…



    "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin

    What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 05:29 PM #8

    It’s possible. If this does happen, I think it will be great, because it will almost certainly mean that Linux is taking its chunk of the OS market pie from MS, not from Apple. If Linux really does reach the #2 spot, it’s not gonna be from home users or even office users, it’ll be from servers and other NT-centric sectors.

    From what I’ve seen of Linux, it’s no threat to OS X. The worst it can do to OS X is take markets from Windows which X might otherwise have won. That’s not great, but…eh, it’s not gonna kill Macs. Anything that helps bring down the Empire is A-okay in my book.

    And, umm…I really don’t think IDC is right, anyway.

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 05:38 PM #9

    … I have yet to EVER see a computer running Linux anywhere I’ve been or worked …

    So you’ve never ‘been’ on this web thing? Linux is rather popular as a server solution. And I believe my own ISP runs it.


    Seemed like a good idea at the time

  • Posted: 19 December 2002 11:28 PM #10

    Linux users are PC-people switching from Windows. More Linux users will mean fewer Windows users which is a good thing. smile

    If Linux passes MacOS in 2005 this will mean that close on 20% will not be using Windows (I expect MacOS to be between 6-10% by 2005). The more people using Linux, the easier it will be to integrate Macs and the easier it will be to have developers not focusing entirely on Windows (online banking anyone?).

    The way I see it - the more Linux users there are the more potential Macintosh users there are.

  • Posted: 20 December 2002 05:05 AM #11

    Tried Linux. Dumped Linux. I would not have been able to get it working without a friend who is a major Linux geek.

    There just isn’t anything there for the home user as far as I can tell. Nice for the IT department, but not much for Joe Mousemover. I think this is a case of wishful thinking on the part of the IT folks.

    Mac OS X does both Geek and User well. It bridges the gap. I don’t foresee a big move away from X to Linux and only a slight shift from Windows to X and Linux. For a mass migration, there needs to be a major paradigm shift which currently is not visible. Anywhere.


  • Posted: 20 December 2002 09:52 AM #12

    I agree with the initial Guest reply—IDC seems to be in bed with whatever’s popular and likes to spout off “facts.” Maybe IDC had popularity issues when it was in high school.

    Whatever the case is with IDC, I don’t see it happening—not as a desktop OS.  Gnome is still horrible (and getting worse before getting better). KDE is getting better all the time, but still far from excellent. Worse yet, the majority of people writing software that could be useful on the Linux desktop have no clue how to design a user interface.

    The comment about “design by committee” by Ed M’s friend is incredibly apt, and it’s what’s holding all the potential Linux desktop solutions back. There are hundreds of people wanting to go hundreds of ways, and in the case of most desktops it leads to in-fighting and a lack of progress.  When you look at KDE, it’s gotten to the point it has because of the fact it’s had a strong leadership keeping it pointed in one direction.

    Perhaps the biggest impediment is that nobody’s really focusing on hiding the guts as Apple did with Mac OS X.  The average desktop user wants to plug things in and have them work, and doesn’t have the time or knowledge to recompile a kernel or mess with ifconfig. They also expect consistency—which the solutions that do try to hide the guts aren’t working toward. If the user’s desktop is KDE, write the user interface part of the guts-hiding to use KDE.

    I used Linux for a long, long time. I dabbled in it back in the Windows 95 days when the first distributions of Slackware were coming out. After beta testing Windows ME, I moved to Linux full-time.  For a while, it was fun. It let my inner alpha geek come out to play. There comes a time, though, where you don’t want to have to tinker to keep things running. When Mac OS X came out, I jumped ship. I’ve still got the Linux box under my desk doing server duty, but that’s all it will ever do.

    Unless some incredibly massive changes come about, I just don’t see Linux surpassing Mac OS in terms of desktop installations. If you handed the average Windows user a Linux CD today, they’d probably be back in Windows within a month.



  • Posted: 20 December 2002 11:13 AM #13

    Hooo Boy!

    Ya happy now Bryan?  after all that positive re-inforcement of your view from the Mac masses :D

    But Yes! .... its gonna happen folks - remember I told you so!


    iconoclast: n. one who challenges cherished beliefs and/or objects of veneration; image-wrecker; anti-cultist


  • Posted: 20 December 2002 01:19 PM #14

    Don’t Waste Your Energy

    IDC earns most of it’s money doing “market research” for private clients such as IBM, Dell, HP, etc.  It has become financially successful generally by telling clients what they already believe.  Happy-happy, joy-joy.  Nobody gets fired, IDC gets paid.  Since the big box-makers are already delivering Linux to many of their corporate server customers IDC will naturally find a way to validate theeir usual “Good, keep doing more” position.

    As a former client of these clowns I heartily recommend that you put IDC on your “Pay Them No Mind” list.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!

  • Posted: 20 December 2002 06:43 PM #15

    [quote author=“Anonymous”]I expect MacOS to be between 6-10% by 2005

    Apple seem to be exhibiting more profit-motive behaviour than many of us would prefer lately, but it is difficult to imagine that they would actually alienate as much as six percent of their user base :o

    Merely difficult.

    The problem with Linux is that it is being developed by geeks, who mostly subscribe to the notion that UI work is for the mules to do. Also, I suspect that Linux is a community much the same as Mac, except with more of a club-like atmosphere (‘join us if you can’). Microsoft apparently has too much baggage to be able to compete with the stability, security and under-the-hood quality of Linux, but they know how to attack it with marketing, hype and glitz. The only way that Linux will seriously encroach into the den would be by a collaboration of several visionary types working on ‘Vodka’, the Linux alternative to Aqua. Somehow, I do not see it happening.


    Seemed like a good idea at the time