IBM, Shuttleworth take aim at Microsoft in Africa - TechCentral

IBM, Shuttleworth take aim at Microsoft in Africa

Mark Shuttleworth

In a move that is clearly aimed at the heart of Microsoft, IBM has teamed up with Canonical, SA Internet billionaire Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu Linux company, to deliver open-source-based software into sub-Saharan Africa on low-cost computers.

IBM and Canonical have introduced a new software package for netbooks and other so-called “thin-client” devices to help businesses and public organisations on the continent “leapfrog traditional PCs and proprietary software”, the two companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

Netbooks are stripped-down, low-powered and low-cost laptops.

Part of IBM’s Smart Work Initiative, the new offering targets the rising popularity of low-cost netbooks to make IBM’s software affordable to new audiences in Africa, the companies said.

“Businesses that could not afford traditional PCs for all employees can now use any type of device and low-cost software to equip all workers with the ability to work smarter anywhere through a variety of devices regardless of the level of communications infrastructure,” the companies said.

The solution, which is available immediately, includes open standards-based e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, unified communication, social networking and other software to any laptop, netbook, or a variety of mobile devices.

It runs on the Ubuntu operating system, and provides the option to deliver collaboration through the Web in a “cloud service model”. IBM says the solutions delivers up to 50% savings per seat versus a Microsoft-based desktop.

“Starting with Africa, we see that [this]… can help realise our vision of eliminating barriers to computer access for emerging markets,” said Shuttleworth.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral


  1. Way to go. Now we just need affordable and high speed connectivity to make the African dream, that we are part of the global village, realize itself. Raymond

  2. Never will Linux be a threat to MS – I promote Opensource but our experiences have shown (and proven) that the public prefer the ease an use of MS.

  3. @Jono that’s why everyone uses TomTom’s that run Linux, sit back and enjoy inflight entertainment on Linux and actually use netbooks with Linux.

    It interesting taken a sewn up market and using that as proof that people prefer MS. They don’t, they just have never had any opportunity to try anything else. Our kids sit on Windows because of “philanthropy”. Almost none of the staff in any org have had any computer training, so its not Linux they fear but any change.

    So many people are using Linux without even knowing it it’s clear that packaging of the experience is how people will use future technologies. So changing the model in which people see Linux is bound to have some impact. Lets see if MS can keep up with a dynamic decentralised development model.

  4. This is great. Strong competition is what Microsoft is always looking for. It always brings the best out of the Redmond company. The battle will be won or lost on innovation. The technical reviews of Windows 7 suggest that any competitor to Microsoft will have a very tough time. It takes ease of use to greater heights. Ultimately consumers are NOT religious about specific technologies. They are DRIVEN by self interests which in most cases start with EASE of USE. Businesses are also largely influenced by TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP of which purchase price is just a small part of it. Critical for many businesses – that are increasingly operating 24X7 – is on going technical support. This is Microsoft’s greatest competitive advantage as they have thousands of partners in Africa capable of supporting customer environment. IBM’s high price business model makes them vulnerable to Microsoft in the enterprise. Microsoft is aiming directly at this area of vulnerability when most customers are looking at doing more with less.

  5. @Dwayne you make some good points! IF Linux could find a desktop killer app the death of MS would be near (Openoffice sucks).

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