IBM and Linux.

During the playoff games yesterday, I saw a ton of ads from IBM touting Linux. Seeing how Linux is free to all, I have to assume IBM is saying that using Linux somehow makes them a leader, as they’re not going to make money from using the platform name in spendy ads. Are these commercials aimed at most of us, or to large corporations? I know this has been asked in another form, but can’t remember the answer. Why spend all that money if it’s for such a small target audience instead of just directly contacting the companies?

They are aimed mostly at large corporations. IBM’s Linux products are mostly high-end server hardware that runs Linux. IBM invests a lot of money contributing to various open source projects that run on their hardware, including the Linux kernel, Apache, and a bunch of other stuff.

That’s what I suspected. I guess what I meant to ask was why spend all that money when I suspect CEO’s are more likley to be reached in a business environment rather than on Sat afternoon during a football game? Think of the millions of us that will never do business with IBM in this capacity.

They will give it to you free. They’ll help you with it at a, relatively, reasonable cost. They’ll also sell you the hardware on which it runs and the consulting services to help take fuller advantage of it.

As to why advertise? Because often, in the computer industry, the person that writes the checks is not very savvy, technology-wise, and the vendor with the better name-recognition gets a leg up.

Another common thing is for companies to buy something because it is cool. Make it cool, they will buy.

“Regular” people have more power than you’d think. I’ve worked on the technical side on positioning various servers and network nodes to wireless operators and perceived quality is everything. If the customer’s engineers perceive an OS as inferior they will complain loud and clear to management. IBM, by directing their ads to regular people hope to get a buzz going so that when company X needs to get those new $500k servers engineers will say “hey, lets take a look at that new IBM linux box”.

Also, the Superbowl (and presumably playoff games to a lesser extent) is the best way to reach business executives with TV ads. (From the book 20 Ads that Changed the World, I think). These are generally folks who don’t spend their time watching sitcoms and reality shows. But the Superbowl is a cultural institution.