December 15, 2004 2:07 PM PST

IDC: Linux PC sales to hit $10 billion in 2008

Sales of PCs running the Linux operating system will reach $10 billion by 2008, market researcher IDC predicted Wednesday.

Linux is expected to be used on about 17 million Linux PCs in that year, some new and some redeployed with the open-source operating system, bringing the total installed base to 42.6 million, according to the IDC study. And though Linux on PCs still likely will be dwarfed by Windows, IDC forecasts a bigger beachhead: Market share of new and used PCs running Linux is expected to grow from 3 percent in 2003 to 7 percent in 2008.

Much of the industry outside Microsoft is a fan of Linux on desktop and laptop computers. Among companies with Linux PC efforts are Red Hat, Novell, Sun Microsystems, Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel.

"For competitors and companies still on the sidelines, this forecast should provide additional justification to the market. Linux is no longer a fringe player. Linux is now mainstream," IDC said in a statement.

The forecasts are from an IDC study of the overall Linux ecosystem, including sales of Linux PCs, servers and packaged software running on those computers. IDC collected the data, but Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a Linux consortium funded by major computing companies, funded IDC to integrate the data into a single study, IDC analyst Al Gillen said.

OSDL also publicized the story Wednesday, providing some counterweight to Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign, which has funded research reports and sponsored advertisements to promote Windows at the expense of its rival Linux.

The IDC study estimates the overall Linux ecosystem will grow 25.9 percent annually to reach $35.7 billion in 2008. Of that, IDC estimates $14 billion will be packaged software, $10 billion PCs and $11 billion servers.

For Linux PCs, market share will likely be lower than average in North and South America and higher in two other regions: Europe, the Middle East and Africa on the one hand and Asia-Pacific countries on the other, IDC forecast. In 2008, Linux PCs are expected to account for less than 4 percent of unit shipments in the Americas and more than 9 percent in the other two regions.

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