Alistair Croll points out in a short piece at GigaOm this morning that the rapidly expanding number of computing devices entering consumers lives are increasingly using Linux as the operating system of choice. For small, single purpose devices such as a digital picture frame or ultralight laptop, cost, size and power consumption all matter, and these are three areas where Linux trumps the big alternatives.
More tellingly, consumers entering the post-desktop world are likely to care less and less what flavor of OS sits behind their favorite applications as long as it works. The same can probably be said for processors (as we've seen with the rise of Intel competitors), most hardware, and increasingly applications. What they will focus on is whether or not the experience takes them where they want to go or connects them to the people or information they want at a reasonable cost. This dynamic is fueling the rise of no-name consumer electronics from upstart manufacturers in Asia, for example, and can be seen pretty clearly in the booming market for flat-screen TVs, cheaper laptops, and mobile handsets from previously unknown manufacturers.
It also explains why big consumer electronics brands such as Nokia, Motorola and Apple are increasingly turning to promoting the experience of using their brands' products and services, as well as the value of their quality. If consumers are going to pay top dollar for a product, they will expect the product to deliver and experience as well as broadcast status. However, even expectations among mass market consumers regarding experience and quality will surely erode somewhat, as we are already seeing with the army of iPhone knockoffs entering the market. Where do consumer electronics companies go next?