Good news for anyone looking to avoid the Microsoft tax: Chinese electronics behemoth Xiaomi is reportedly planning to launch an affordable Linux laptop in early 2016.
Xiaomi has made supply chain orders for 750,000 laptops, according to industry site Digitimes is reporting. It would be the first laptop made by the Xiaomi, and could give desktop Linux a mainstream user base across the planet.
There have been Linux laptops before, but generally they’re aimed less at consumers than developers. Joey-Elijah Sneddon of OMG Ubuntu has high hopes for what the laptop could mean for Linux’s popularity in the People’s Republic.
“If anyone stands a chance of taking Linux mainstream in China it’s Xiaomi,” wrote Sneddon.
The laptops will reportedly be offered in two sizes, with 12.5- and 13.3-inch displays. The devices will focus on offering performance at an affordable price, similar to their smartphone line, and bundles with phones are likely.
But don’t expect to find these laptops on U.S. or European store shelves anytime soon: the company tends to stick to developing markets. Linux fans might be able to order devices online, but if their phones are any indication it could take some effort on the part of would-be purchasers.
Little-known in the U.S., Xiaomi is the third biggest smartphone vendor on the planet right now – their low-cost phones and other products bring in $12 billion in annual revenue. They’re significant players in China, as well as developing markets from Mexico to Malaysia. They make up one third of the wearables market, and significant laptop sales on their part could introduce many to desktop Linux in China and beyond.
The company has been criticized for how closely their phones resemble those of Apple, and CEO Lei Jun is known to sport a Steve-Jobs-like outfit – and to “borrow” the occasional presentation slide.
No they didnt? Yes, they did! The iconic "one more thing" slide. Priceless – Xiaomi Mi4 pic.twitter.com/bD9UamXVBl
— Sascha Pallenberg (@sascha_p) July 22, 2014
With this reputation it’s no surprise that earlier this year supposedly “leaked” images suggested the long-rumored laptop will closely resemble a Macbook Air, but those images have since been proven fake. No confirmed images of the laptop exist as of this writing.