Wal-Mart ends store sales of Linux PCs

Wal-Mart has stopped selling Everex’s Linux-based PC in its stores because of a tepid response from customers, although it will continue to sell the product online, the retailer said Tuesday.
The customer response to the US$199 Everex TC2502 Green gPC desktop was not as high as expected, said Melissa O’Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman..

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., agreed last year to carry the product as a test and stocked it in about 600 stores where it saw high interest in computers.

“The idea was to see if shoppers in our stores would respond as they do online to the offering. The answer is that customers did not respond to expectations, so we decided not to restock,” O’Brien said.

“We are America’s retailer, so the decisions on what we offer in our stores is based on how our customers vote with their purchases,” she said.

She played down the decision, which has been seen as a setback for Linux on the desktop. “We did not ‘pull’ Linux from our shelves or make any kind of ‘announcement’ on this,” she said.

Wal-Mart has had little success in the past selling low-cost Linux PCs. It has also offered Linux-based Lindows and Microtel PCs, but the retailer eventually removed those too from its shelves.

Wal-Mart will continue to sell the Everex PC through its Web site, where it is able to sell products that appeal to “a more targeted consumer,” O’Brien said. Wal-Mart also sells Everex’s Linux-based Cloudbook notebook online.

The gPC2 desktop runs on a Via Technologies C7-D processor running at 1.5GHz, and includes 512M bytes of RAM and an 80G-byte hard drive. It does not include a monitor.

Everex said the gPC desktops had mostly sold out from Wal-Mart’s shelves, with only a few units left.

“The sell-through was brisk, I am surprised at the decision,” said Paul Kim, director of marketing at Everex.

Wal-Mart’s decision to sell Everex notebooks and desktops online should offset any drop in sales, he said. Everex is also continually adding distributors to sell its products, he said.

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