Government Deal Brings ELX Closer to 100,000-Seat Goal

With the news of its first big government deal, Indian Linux vendor ELX has come a bit closer to meeting its sales goal of 100,000seats of its desktop Linux product BizDesk 4.0 this financial year.

“An Indian state court project has asked vendors to supply 600 PCs withELX Biz Desk 4.0 preloaded in it. The total requirement in thisfinancial year (ending March 2005) is 3,000 new machines and 3,000copies [of the OS],” ELX Marketing Director Majojit Majumdar told LinuxInsider.

Just last week, ELX surprised the worldwide Linux community by revising its goal of 50,000 copies this year to about 100,000 copies.

More Large Deals

Several large deals in the making are factored into the estimates, Majumdar said. “We’ve been successful in demonstrating the capability ofBizDesk 4.0 to some of the big OEMs. One of them has shown keeninterest and has started negotiating prices with us,” Majumdar explained. “This one deal, if it turns successful — and we are quite hopeful that itwill be, because technically they have cleared the product — will give usan installed base of 40,000 copies,” he said.

The company is working on five large deals, and Majumdar said thatdespite the company’s small sales and support staff departments — whichtotal about 10 people — his sales projections are actually”quite conservative” in light of the company’s recent successes.

It’s an ambitious goal for a product that has sold only 900 copies inthe last three months, but the company has focused its efforts on atwo-prong strategy of wooing large OEMs and convincing government buyers that Linux is the right choice for their emerging IT economy.

Huge Obstacles

Many industry observers and vendors alike see India as the 21st century’s first big OS market to go up for grabs. “India is a key battleground for Microsoft as it tries to get a pool of developersloyal to its computing platform,” Partha Iyengar, director at market researcher Gartner India, recently told India Times’ Infotech.

ELX’s strategy has been to mimic Microsoft’s Windows-based environment as close as it can without attracting lawsuits. “India is still a Microsoft country. Linux is gaining fast in the server end, but therethe bigger casualty is SCO, not Microsoft,” Majumdar said. The company also hopes to win over the 5 to 10 percent of those who pirate OS software in a country where the software piracy rate is estimated at 70percent.

Still, Majumdar said he is heartened by recent endorsements of Linux by Indian government officals, including the country’s president.

He said: “We are the only Linux distribution company [headquartered in] India. Traditionally, Indian [computer product] companies have not fared well against competition from Western global players, and this is even more true in system software. You will not see Indian products popular in the global market, even though you see Indian programmers working everywhere. We believe we are creating history by competing and winning against Microsoft and other global Linux players in India.”

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