As we approach the release of Ubuntu 10.10, Jon Melamut vice president of sales and product management at Canonical has released this bomb shell: Lenovo is shipping over 1 million Ubuntu PCs in China in 2010. This may seem like a small number but just six months ago Canonical claimed to have just twelve million users worldwide. In 2008, the total number was 8 million. This new number comes from a single manufacturer: Lenovo. The total number of Ubuntu PCs shipping worldwide from others including Dell is unknown.
China is a massive market with huge potential for Open Source and Ubuntu. The Chinese government for one ships it’s own Linux distribution: Red Flag Linux. Moreover, China and US are getting increasingly competitive. This may lead the Chinese to choose products not directly linked to the United States. Open source in some ways is natural to the Chinese, which has long believed in the value of strong communities and the socialist principles of the common good. Of course the other open source ideals of complete transparency and freedom are things that are entirely new.
This huge developing market may also be part of the reason why Canonical is sending a design team member to China to evaluate Ubuntu’s usability. Canonical recently held it’s second hardware summit in Taiwan which had over 200 attendees from major Asain OEMs and ODMs .