Earlier this month, UK-based Apricot Computers re-emerged from 11 years in the wildness, after announcing that it would enter the netbook market by selling its own offering, the Apricot Picobook Pro netbook.
The 8.9 inch netbook weighs less than 1kg, and includes a 1.8 inch 60GB hard disk and 1GB of RAM. Apricot said at the time that the Picobook Pro would run either the Windows XP Home operating for the princely sum of £328 (AUD$840) including tax, or Novell SuSE Enterprise for £279 (AUD$714).
Now it seems that Apricot has decided to ditch the open source version of the netbook, citing complexity issues with the open source operating system.
"Apricot will not be selling with Linux variants," the company told Register Hardware. "Apricot has made this decision to ensure customers have a smooth installation of their operating system."
"The Linux version proved too complicated with initial testers, who would opt to purchase and install XP any way," it added. "Apricot believes that this will be a more attractive product offering for their target customers, because as soon as it is switched on, it is ready for use."
Apricot has also dropped the price of the XP-based version to £299 including VAT.
"It is true that netbook vendors have seen higher return from Linux netbooks, something like a 4 to 1 return rate over Windows-based products, so this comes no surprise," said Alan Lord of The Open Source Learning Centre, a consultancy that advises companies on how to make use of open source software.
"The problem is the sales process is quite short, and people who buy them, think they are going to be getting a cheap PC, but are then surprised that it doesn't look like Windows," said Lord.
"Essentially, it is not being sold in correct way, and to the typical consumer, Linux is not familiar operating system," he added. "PC makers should be very clear that the machine ships with Linux, and they should manage the expectation."
However, Lord points out that some vendors are being successful selling Linux-based machines.
"Look at Dell, which puts things into perspective, as it has been highly successful with Ubuntu range of PCs," said Lord. "They have done it (offering Linux-based machines) the right way, on a systematic basis.
"At first, they (Dell) almost hid them (the Ubuntu range of PCs)," said Lord. "They made it hard to find on their site, so people who wanted them, really had to search for them. Over the year they have become a lot more public about it and have been very clear from the start that the machine features Ubuntu on it."
"We still a lot of interest in Linux, especially in the current economic conditions of today," said Lord. "The potential of open source is vast, especially as distributions like Ubuntu become more well known. We have the feeling here, that open source is starting to approach critical mass."
Apricot was a British PC maker that has been around since 1965, when it was known as Applied Computer Techniques" (ACT). The company changing its name to Apricot Computers Ltd in 1982, when it launched its first microcomputer.
Subsequent computers included the Apricot PC and the Apricot F1. It claim to fame was that Apricot was also the first manufacturer to build a system to incorporate the Intel 486 microprocessor. However, after being bought by Mitsubishi in the 1997, the company disappeared.