Any software system needs five things to be successful
- ease of use
- getting OEM support for system drivers
- documentation of the features & how to access them
- updating the code
- customer support
Linux community has always been good at updating code and documentating features, but always lagged behind in customer support, equipment manufacturer support, and ease of use. These were essential as customers would be the end users, and equipment manufacturers are needed to provide device driver API.
Then came the Open Handset Alliance in 2008 lead by Google, which changed the perception of Linux. Original Equipment Manufacturers now collaborated with Google, to create drivers for devices they could sell and profit from. Google's success rocketed Android OS to 80% MarketShare around the World, running in over 11,000 types of devices.
Reasons for Google's success:
- Easy to install applications: Android Market / Google play
- OEM support for system drivers
- Automatic updates: no need to manually download and flash ROM
- Documentation of Android features & code
4 points + 1 bonus for Open Source / 5
Seeing Google's application delivery model other's tried to copy it. Canonical Ubuntu started it's own software distribution center to make application installation easier, whose success propagated the feature upstream to Debian, Ubuntu's parent OS. Ubuntu now has over 80 different variations/forks.
Seeing Google's business model succeed, Valve started to follow it. Valve, a game distribution platform company, launched it's own Steam OS, and convinced PC makers to pre-install it. With Valve's push into Linux, more and more games are now being developed for Linux systems.