Although most observers are optimistic about Linux's market prospects in China, one company has adopted a cautious approach to the market.
"I think (the mainland) offers the biggest long-term opportunity that I can think of," said Art Tyde, co-founder and executive vice president of San Francisco-based Linuxcare. "We're in the process of meeting with various different players . . . (and) determining who will be good partners."
"It's really tempting to jump right in, but until we have the right partnerships lined up, we don't want to jump the gun and make promises that we aren't going to keep," said Tyde.
"The real challenge (in the mainland) is in the business development space," Tyde explained. "We want to do China right. We want to address the appropriate regional concerns and we want to approach China with a more business development focus, because we are not going to make money right away."
Because Linux is an open-source operating system, there are no intellectual property concerns, said Tyde. "Basically, how you make money is service and support," he said.
Tyde said choosing the right partners would be crucial in determining Linuxcare's position in the mainland. "When we select the partner, we want to be 'open kimono' with them," he said. "It's not in our interest to hold back when we establish a partner, because Linuxcare is not a big company and there's no way we are going to put 50 people on the mainland to do a zillion things."
According to Tyde, Linuxcare is at the negotiation table with several mainland organizations, including a distributor. "There's a lot of good momentum going on, but China is still a young (Linux) market, so it's hard to determine who's going to live and who's going to die," he said.
An announcement regarding Linuxcare's mainland partner is expected later this week.
Linuxcare recently signed an alliance with Hong Kong's Web Force Unlimited to provide training and support to cultivate a pool of Linux experts.
According to Charles Choy, CEO of Web Force, the alliance aims to train more than 100 certified Linux specialists within a year in Hong Kong. "With a series of training, we hope that more IT professionals can manage to use Linux, and at the same time, there is a broader application of Linux in all industries," he said.