So another online reseller has succumbed to the need for a physical retail location - shelves, showroom and till. But the surprising thing is that this new retailer is a Linux software specialist.
Online-based e-commerce startup EverythingLinux (EL) has set up a combined office, warehouse and retail operation in Sydney's inner west suburb of Five Dock to cater for what managing director Anthony Rumble claims was a pent-up demand. "Customers would keep coming to my home office anyway," he said.
According to Rumble, EL was established in October last year as one of the first Linux-only online resellers, using its own expertise and experience to create a (Linux-driven) Web site. The business has progressed as a popular supplier with Australian Linux customers.
According to Rumble, "In the main, Linux products have, until now, only been available via online suppliers, and while customers are barely tolerant of buying online, dealing with the US can be especially difficult."
But the need to have an accessible office and retail site was emphasised by the number of people who would come across town to pick up a boxed Linux product, he explained.
EL stocks the various brands of the operating system, including Red Hat, Caldera, Mandrake, Susy and Debian, as well as commercial applications and a wide range of games for Linux.
Rumble described EL as "the one-stop shop for Linux", and said that the value it brings is in ordering from and being supplied by a local operation. "People still want to look and feel, and we needed the office and fulfilment space."
The Five Dock location is by no means a "High Street" retail site, but Rumble said it was easily accessible by car and public transport.
"It didn't need to be a retail centre location to catch passing trade, but a location that customers can visit."
As well as 180 Linux-related book titles, the operating systems and applications - "the ones we believe will sell" - EL will take the occasional special orders for development suites such as Metro Works Code Warrior and Gnupro Combo.
"There are a growing number of retailers carrying Linux software as well as a number of book titles, but nowhere near the range we are carrying," Rumble claimed.
EL has a small team to service the shop as well as fulfil all of its online orders. The retail Linux products are packaged for retail display with a variety of books and support options, but Rumble said they are "very different from normal commercial IT retail products".
He said that the Linux channel is not as regulated as that of other better-known software products, where he claimed there are blocking factors to protect the channels of distribution.
As well as the office and retail space, Rumble revealed that he is in the process of setting up a training facility to launch early in the new year. He said that EL will offer vocational Linux training at a low-to-medium level.http"//www.everythinglinux.com.au(02) 9712 1799