A while back I noted that the pricing for ASUS's new Linux-powered Eee PC was at a premium over their XP version of the same machine, a move which defied most brands of logic I could apply to the situation. Fortunately, after a bit over a month of this decision getting flamed roundly in public, they're backing down and quoting the same price for both machines: $649.
What motivated a decision like this in the first place? Did Asus (or Microsoft, or whoever was most directly responsible for this decision) think that a) no one would notice this price discrepancy, that b) no one would really care, or c) no one would object? On the plus side, it means anyone else who tries to pull a stunt like this will no doubt get caught all the faster.
One possible reason why they did this -- cynical as this sounds -- is that it was going to be passed off as some kind of cost premium for offering Linux. To wit: "After all, Linux is so new that we have to fund our research into how best to make it run on our hardware." Sounds to me more like the "service fees" our banks and phone companies routinely whack us with when we're not looking.
I seriously doubt the costs of adding Linux as a preload are big enough (in terms of, say the R&D involved to get it running well) that you have to jack up the base cost of the unit so grossly to compensate. And if they are, then that needs to be addressed in as aboveboard a way as possible, both for the sake of consumers and companies that want to offer Linux in this kind of package.