I also had my doubts initially when I heard Ubuntu Lucid would have Yahoo as the default search provider in Firefox. However, upon a second look coupled with some reflection on the entire Linux desktop market, I have come to believe that the deal is a win-win situation for both Canonical and we the Ubuntu users. Here’s why
The fact that Yahoo! is going to be the default search provider simply means they offered a better deal over that of Google. What this actually means is that the Ubuntu brand is now more valuable than before. This is likely to go a long way to secure other lucrative contracts for Canonical. It also means that Ubuntu is actually becoming a brand over which the tech giants try to outbid each other in order to do business with. That is a good sign of success.
This deal, coupled with other revenue generating deals being worked on by Canonical simply means we are not going to have to deal with different shades of Ubuntu so as to generate revenue for Canonical. In other words, the more revenue generated by Ubuntu through other means, the less likely are we going to see an Ubuntu community and professional editions.
The Google factor
I also think the Yahoo! deal is good because it will eventually help wean some people off Google. I know you may vehemently disagree with me on this point, because when it comes to search, Google is supreme. But I would want a situation where people are actually made aware of other choices besides Google. Let’s not forget also about the not so open way in which Google handles our private virtual habits as compared to Yahoo!
To me, the best part about all this is how easy you can easily change back to Google if you want. It actually tells me that Canonical despite the fact that they need to raise revenue, still has the Ubuntu user experience firmly in sight. So if you don’t like Yahoo! for one reason or the other, you can easily switch back to Google with a few mouse clicks.
Fairness on the part of Canonical
There have been complaints that Canonical should have consulted the community before entering into such a deal. Well you know I beg to differ. I expect users to respect Canonical’s right to seek revenue channels in direct proportion to how much we want them to keep our user experience in mind.
The fact that Ubuntu is mostly a community driven project does not preclude Canonical from taking advantage of lucrative business opportunities. A reader on Tuxmachines put is succinctly when he said
“Why would they consult that bunch of intrepid freeloaders?[Quite harsh word there] This was a MONEY DEAL and had nothing to do with the bunch of users that thought nothing of ordering 10,50,100 copies of free CD’s (95% of which ended up as coasters or frisbees).”
Canonical has been fair with us by telling us way before the final release about this not so small change. Like I said in the 4th point, if you do not want Yahoo!, big G is just a few mouse clicks away. I believe by telling us in advance, again Canonical has show that they are sticking to their fundamental principles of fairness to the general user community of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is a great distro, but what everyone must know is that the people that bring us this distro also have bread that needs to be buttered. They have every right to seize any business opportunity that they believe will increase their revenue and help sustain the Ubuntu brand.
Sure there should be some concern about the Ubuntu-Yahoo! deal in the light of the fact that Bing is also lurking at the back of the equation, but I think we should worry about that when the time comes. For now, the deal is in my view a win-win situation for both Canonical and we the Ubuntu users. What do you think?