Linux market share of the netbook market peaks in August 2008, since then its been a marketshare erosion.
Remind me again.. when where Ubuntu pre-installs for netbooks first become available for retail sale? September? Ever since Ubuntu pre-installed netbook system have become available.. linux netbook marketshare has declined..according to that article. Sure a shrinking portion of a growing market might be growth, but its not the sort of growth you write home about. Is this a sustainable market for Canonical to be providing OEM services for?
I do not think a general purpose linux operating system is going to compete against any flavor of Windows on a netbook if the netbook experience is defined as a laptop-alike experience and invites people to fire up a word processor or a spreadsheet. Inertia is a big purchasing motivator which will offset price to some extent in overall market penetration. Linux needs to be introduced in situations where there is no apriori expectation that the device act like a desktop computer or it will not compete with Windows.
What OEM's really have to figure out is how to use the flexibility of the open development model which empower linux distribution development to produce a narrowly scoped, highly inflexible user experience for the general market. It's great if these device will run general purpose linux operating system for the technical savvy 1% tail of the market (people like me.) But people like me can install our own general purpose linux operating systems post-retail, we are not the market to be catered to in a default general consumer configuration.
I think what HP is doing with its walled garden approach to its Mi customization of Ubuntu is going to be the way forward. Don't advertise a computing experience that looks like a desktop and invites people to write word documents or presentations. Give them something narrowly tailored. Is HP paying Canonical to help develop the custom Mi experience or is that an in house HP customization? My understanding is that its not carrying the Ubuntu brand, so its not clear what the business relationship between the two is. I hope for Canonical's sake they are.