Linux POS Shipments Getting Clobbered, But Russia, China and Latin America Rare Bright Spots

Written by Evan Schuman
March 3rd, 2011

New POS marketshare stats released Tuesday (March 1) show an expected 6.9 percent worldwide POS growth, but included in those figures is a steep plunge in POS Linux support. In the U.S., for example, Linux shipments accounted for 9.3 percent of all POS units shipped in 2009, a figure that dropped to 4 percent last year. That’s an almost 57 percent drop, according to the IHL Group.

What’s perhaps even more interesting is where Linux growth is strong and why. IHL President Greg Buzek pointed to Linux strengths in China, Russia and parts of Latin America. In China, the reason is simple: The Chinese government has mandated that government agencies there not use Windows.

In Russia, the non-intuitive reason is decades of academic focus on science education. That has created a huge number of Russians with high-end science degrees and tons of coding background, Buzek said, the result of which is an employment pool swimming with coders who are perfectly suited to managing an open-source product such as Linux. “The sheer number of people who are available and their level of sophistication” has made Russia a very Linux-friendly environment.

In Latin America, where Linux shipments account for almost 20 percent of all POS operating systems (in Brazil, it’s 21 percent), record-high unemployment and Linux’s low cost creates another Linux-friendly community. Unlike countries such as the U.S., Latin American retailers are less concerned about holding onto their programmers for the long term. When custom code is being crafted, that becomes a critical issue.

In the U.S. and Canada, the POS operating system installed base percentages were: DOS and legacy Windows, 46 percent; Windows XPe, 13 percent; 4690, 10 percent; Windows Vista/Windows 7, 10 percent; WEPOS/POSReady, 10 percent; Linux 7, percent; Windows CE, 2 percent; and “other,” 1 percent.


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