Is the iPad good for Linux?
Regardless of how severe limitations Apple imposes on the iPad, we can expect it to be reasonably successful. I don’t think it will duplicate the success of the iPhone but due to Apple’s strong marketing and its own technical merits, it will sell in significant numbers.
How will this affect Linux and the upcoming tablets based on it?
When I say Linux, I mean Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as well because they are all based on Linux.
I believe the iPad will have a positive effect on Linux adoption. The bigger its success will be, the bigger help it will provide to Linux. Now, I agree that this sounds controversial first, because the iPad runs Apple’s own iPhone OS which is a competitor to Linux but the logic gets more obvious if we think about the biggest hurdle for Linux adoption: compatibility with Windows.
When buying computer-like devices, people still expect compatibility with Windows and windows applications. Microsoft’s monopoly of the desktop makes it hard for alternative OS-es to make headway. The iPhone made a dent in this cornerstone because it proved that it can serve as a viable, ultra-mobile internet device, a role played by, overwhelmingly, Windows laptops before. The iPhone created a huge ecosystem of software developers/publishers completely independent from Microsoft and Windows. The iPad will continue this trend and will highlight this market in a much more meaningful manner.
People buying the iPad will be aware that their device will never run Windows programs yet they will buy it anyway. Their example will further destroy the myth that a computer needs Windows to serve useful purposes. The iPad, due to its size, is more of a “computer” in the eyes of the people than an iPhone, regardless of the technical similarities.
After the iPad successfully lowers resistance to non-Windows computing devices, Linux will have a much better chance of competing in the mobile computing market and, eventually, on the desktop.