As the cost of Windows becomes a larger and larger portion of the cost of computer hardware, more vendors are going to look at Linux as a viable alternative. Acer is already selling Linux on its low cost ultra-portables, but will expand Linux options to notebooks this year.
Another interesting advantage of Linux for hardware manufacturers: because it's open, they can customize it for their specific hardware models and the differing requirements of laptops or Media PCs. According to the article, using Linux helps them "extend battery life from five to seven hours."
This means that hardware manufacturers could build special hardware features into their boxes and then not only write the drivers to support the hardware, but also modify any aspect of the operating system to better support the new features. That's an appealing option to companies that are currently competing primarily on price.