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|Originally Published: Monday, 6 September 1999||Author: Robert F. Young|
|Published to: corp_features/General||Page: 1/1 - [Std View]|
Sizing the Linux Market
Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat Software attempts to size the Linux populace using a variety of sources.
Note to the revised edition: The interesting part of the new data is not its quantity but the changes in that data from the prior survey - from these it would appear that the use of the Linux OS is continuing to grow rapidly.
Also of special interest in this edition is the section on Datapro's "1997 International User Ratings Survey of UNIX and NT". Where the 1996 edition of this Datapro report barely mentioned Linux, this edition covers Linux use in detail.
Not knowing how many users an operating system has causes many problems, especially for companies who work in the Linux market. For instance, companies cannot plan properly without knowing if they are dealing with thousands or millions of potentialcustomers. Red Hat Software addresses this problem. This paper is compiled by Red Hat Software for Red Hat's use. We are pleased to publish it for your use, but we make absolutely no assurances about its accuracy or usefulness for any purpose.
Notice that the terms "Linux users" and "Linux machines" appear interchangeably because we estimate that for every computer that has more than one user, there is at least one user who is running more than one Linux machine. In fact, there may be either many more Linux users than machines or more Linux-based machines than users, we simply have no way of knowing.
This paper is our attempt to examine as much what is currently known about the size of the Linux market. Our information is based on estimates that are drawn from the most reliable sources that we can find. Having said that, it should be noted that these figures are estimates. If you feel that you have better data than that which is shown here, we'd be thrilled to hear it. You are welcome to use this paper for any purpose you see fit provided you:
Our estimates based on our research during the year was that US-based suppliers of Linux CD-Rom products sold 750,000 units in 1997. This compares to our estimate of 450,000 units sold in 1996.
While US suppliers represented (in our opinion) the majority of the Linux products shipped during the year there were significant numbers of non-US-based CD-ROMs manufactured and sold in countries including Germany, Japan, France, the UK, Taiwan, and China.
Win32 (95/NT) 111,788,489 MacOS 48,878,795 Linux 29,834,793 Solaris 21,619,282
Because of the problems of counting numbers of copies of Linux distributed as shown above, we chose instead to base our estimates on counting the number of Linux users against the number of UNIX users. While far from an exact science, the number of UNIX users has been tracked and estimated by more credible organizations using more sophisticated techniques than we are pretending to use.
a. Linux Journal(s)
While the rapid growth in the distribution and paid subscription of the Linux Journal over the last two years (see their web site at http://www.ssc.com) indicates a healthy growing user base for the Linux OS, its total circulation serves only as a minimum base number of users, in the US.
Note the biggest growth in Linux magazine subscriptions is outside of the US. In 1997, no less than five (that we know of) monthly Linux magazines were founded in Japan, Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, and the UK. b. UNIX Review, now Performance Computing Magazine
- 1995: 10,000
- 1996: 25,000
- 1997: 45,000
- 1998: 57,000
(circulation 90,000+), a US-based Miller Freeman publication, acknowledged that in a late 1995 survey that 10% of their readers used Linux. In their 1997 survey, the percentage of Linux users was 26%.
c. iX Magazine (circulation 35,000+), a leading German UNIX magazine, found in a recent 1996 survey that 34% of their readers used Linu x. Today they acknowledge that Linux is used by 45% of their readers, making it -the- most popular OS used by their readers.
d. Sys Admin
(circulation 25,000+), a Miller Freeman publication serving UNIX system administrators, found in a late 1996 survey that 21% of their readers were using Linux. Today the survey reveals that 34% of their readers use Linux.
e. Dr. Dobbs
(Circulation 155,000), is another Miller Freeman magazine with a large international readership. Dr. Dobbs hired Wilson Research Group of San Carlos CA, to conduct a significant survey of the UNIX OS usage among their readers and found that of those using UNIX, about 43% were using Linux.
Linux has jumped from being the 7th most commonly installed version of UNIX in the survey sample to being the 4th most commonly installed version of UNIX in just 12 months. Linux is, according to Datapro, trailing only Solaris, HP/UX, and IBM's AIX on a worldwide usage by "managers and directors of IS working for large organizations." In several major world markets, specifically Germany, Brazil, and Australia, Linux is installed as often if not more often than -any- other UNIX category OS in large enterprises.
Their data indicates that NT is not making inroads into UNIX sites and that NT is popular as a replacement for Dos/Windows and Novell Netware installations.
Linux rates first in overall satisfaction in Datapro's ratings survey of all the major UNIX OSes and NT. While this survey does show a rapid increase in the use of Linux in the corporate environment, 14% of all the sites surveyed used Linux, the survey is limited as a guide to the total numbers of Linux users. Linux use follows the PC model, where the users are making their own purchasing decisions. There has been little effort to date to sell Linux as an enterprise solution to the type of corporate managers surveyed here.
For anyone interested in "Linux in the enterprise," Datapro's study is filled with fascinating facts, figures, and analyses. While pricey at $1,000 per copy, I recommend it for anyone looking for serious data on the commercial market of Linux products and services.
Dr. Dobbs' survey (see above) is also very enlightening on this subject. 42.5% of their UNIX using readers responded that "they would be developing applications for Linux in the following 12 months" compared to 12.3% who said that they would be developing applications on SCO UNIX.
However when the question was changed to inquire "which UNIX OS would you or your company purchase in the next 12 months," the percentage of Linux users fell to 34.9% and SCO buyers grew to 12.7%.
This is evidence of the hidden usage phenomenon that understates the actual market share the Linux OS enjoys.
We are somewhat suspicious of the rapid change in this ratio and speculate that the change is a result of other factors, such as the fact that our UNIX-using customers are not registering their new copies of Red Hat Linux or that the UNIX-using customers do not need the free support that registration qualifies them for.
So while we are willing to concede some growth to the ratio of non-UNIX users over UNIX users, we will use a 60/40 ratio for the purpose of our low estimates and a 70/30 ratio for the purposes of our high ratios.
Non-UNIX users would have had no reason to read or subscribe to any of the UNIX magazines listed above. This would mean that the above estimates of Linux users among the total population of UNIX users are only 40% of the actual total.
Low estimates: 1,742,000 + 2,613,000 = 4,355,000
High estimates: 3,015,000 + 7,035,000 = 10,050,000
These numbers of course do not include the users who have downloaded Linux at no cost, and the Linux users in countries and markets with whom we do not currently have much contact.
It is interesting to compare this figure to our previous estimates of the numbers of Linux users. Comparing our new estimates to our old ones, we find that, in the last 12 months, the increase in the number of new Linux users is:
End of 1993 100,000 1994 500,000 1995 1,500,000 1996 3,500,000 March 98 7,500,000
You can find this document, and more about Red Hat, online at:
Red Hat Software, Inc.: http://www.redhat.com
Linux Journal: http://www.ssc.com/
Performance Computing (formerly UNIX Review): http://www.unixreview.com/
iX Magazine: http://www.heise.de/ix/
Sys Admin: http://www.samag.com/
Dr. Dobbs: http://www.ddj.com/
Copyright 1998 Red Hat Software, Inc. Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any conflicting or corroborating data.
Comments? Email the author of this piece.