IBM, Canonical partner to target Africa netbook market; Upend Microsoft

IBM, Canonical partner to target Africa netbook market; Upend Microsoft

Summary: IBM and Canonical, the outfit behind Ubuntu Linux, are partnering to target Africa's netbook market. Target: Microsoft.


IBM and Canonical, the outfit behind Ubuntu Linux, are partnering to target Africa's netbook market.

Under a partnership announced Wednesday, IBM and Canonical will offer a software bundle for netbooks and PCs. The software package aims to meld the desktop and cloud computing offerings.

Among the parts (statement, Techmeme):

  • IBM Client for SmartWork is available across Africa. The suite includes email, word processing, spreadsheets, communication and social networking software designed for netbooks, laptops and mobile devices.
  • SmartWork runs on Ubuntu Linux.
  • There is an option to run collaboration tools via cloud computing and virtualization via
  • The package uses open standards such as the Open Document Format (ODF).

The target for these tools is clear. IBM said that it can save up to 50 percent per seat relative to Microsoft desktops. Emerging markets are among the more interesting Linux-Microsoft battlefronts. What makes the IBM-Canonical partnership notable is the distribution heft that Big Blue brings to the table relative other early players such as the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

IBM said it will distribute the SmartWork client through Africa via local service providers such as Inkululeko and ZSL Inc. The aim is to spread the IBM/Canonical software through government and educational institutions and businesses.

Topics: Software, Banking, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Microsoft, Linux, IBM, Hardware, Cloud, Virtualization

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  • Their timing is quite good

    Right at this moment, the Internet infrastructure in Central Africa is being upgraded with new underwater fiber optic cable links that will ultimately bring Africa's broadband capacity on par with the rest of the world by late 2010. Their timing couldn't be better.
    • Why not red hat and IBM?

      Fedora is much better than ubuntu, why not fedora instead? Although I hate windows, I often stir up distro wars, so here we go: YUM is the best software installer for linux on earth, RPM is king, nano murdered vi and emacs, anaconda kills ubiquity, plymouth kills usplash, Debian is freakishly weird for a linux distro, ubuntu's theme makes me think of vomit. There.
      • Ubuntu is a great choice & themes can be changed

        Not everybody hates the default Ubuntu theme. But I always change it. Isn't that part of the beauty of Linux? Anything can change to suit the individual.

        I've used Red Hat and Fedora. Admittedly Red Hat was my first exposure to Linux and it even came with the Red Hat bible that I purchased. That was 8 years ago. I never got the hang of yum for some reason. I suppose I could now, but then I found it confusing.

        The Synaptic front end for apt-get works very well. At least there's a searchable database available to find the application you're looking for. I didn't discover such capability in Red Hat or Fedora.

        Ubuntu is based on Debian, but it's not Debian. Yes, it does have the underpinnings of Debian, but access to non-free software is much easier for the novice. Additionally, Ubuntu's GUI feels more polished due to additions made by Canonical that a Debian user would have to know about, find and install.

        Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical founder and funder, is South African. Surely Canonical has a presence and recognition there. Support will be more accessible and cheaper than it would be if Red Hat were the partner. Language support is already available. And people in Africa recognize the word "ubuntu" and know what it means. Who knows what connotation Red Hat has in African languages?

        Lastly, the World Cup Finals will be held in South Africa in 2010. Even though most Americans don't seem to care about it, it's a huge event for the rest of the world that calls soccer "football." It's as big or bigger than the Olympics. I can't imagine a better venue for generating world-wide interest in almost any product or service.

        Ubuntu is a great choice for this project. The circumstances and geographic location are tailor-made.
      • BSD or DIE!


        You wanna start a war, O.K.

        Sabayon is what the cool kids use.
      • MS is King

        And MS rolls on over all the pissy little
        Linux distros with all their "mine is the best" crap.
        Divide and conquer has always been the aggressors
        motto. But these Linux clowns have all been too self centered to see this, under the denial meme of
        "choice is good". We need two desktops, we need
        two dozen distros, we need scattered defocused
        effort. We need Debian we need RPM and maybe
        some other crap.

        How about "the customer" only needs one OS and
        one desktop if it is the best one. The customer does
        not need choices ABOUT SOMETHING THAT THEY
        KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. The MS motto is you
        have no choice "this is what you get, take it or leave
        it". And that is how that kind of product (an OS)
        needs to be marketed.

        So then it is brand name and market penetration that
        is really what it takes, and Google OS might do it for
        the Linux circus, I mean bazzar? After all the
        Google motto is "ENJOYABLE USER
        EXPERIENCE", did the Linux crowd ever hear of
  • ARM?

    I wonder if the laptops are going to have ARM cpu's. They would be cheaper, plus use a lot less power. The later is important because most Africans either have no electricity or they do but there are brownouts and shutdowns all through the day.

  • RE: IBM, Canonical partner to target Africa netbook market; Upend Microsoft

    Good choice with Ubuntu. But more importantly, is to get
    in and make an impact before Microsoft and Bill Gates
    indoctrinates the whole African continent.
  • RE: IBM, Canonical partner to target Africa netbook market; Upend Microsoft

    You forgot to mention one of the most interesting parts -- the virtualization capability offered in this announcement from Virtual Bridges, called VERDE. This is where the cloud and virtualization capabilities in the announcement come from.