IBM, Canonical Bring Low-Cost Software Package To Africa


The two companies said the package costs as much as 50 percent less than equivalent packages of proprietary software from Microsoft developed to run on traditional PCs.

"Starting with Africa, we see that this smart client package can help realize our vision of eliminating barriers to computer access for emerging markets," said Mark Shuttleworth, co-founder of Johannesburg, South Africa-based Canonical, in a statement.

Built on Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system, the IBM Client for Smart Work includes e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, unified communications and social networking applications. IBM said the package also offers collaboration options through the use of cloud computing technology such as Virtual Bridges' Verde software. IBM's LotusLive hosted services also play a role in providing services.

The package is specifically designed to run on netbook computers and other low-cost, thin-client devices that are more attractive in emerging markets than PCs. Market researcher ABI Research has predicted that sales of netbook computers will explode from 35 million this year to 139 million in 2013.

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The package includes the free IBM Lotus Symphony personal productivity application suite, as well as Lotus Notes collaboration software (or the Web-based iNotes), Lotus Connections social networking application and Lotus Quickr file and repository management.

One factor behind the package's low cost is the applications are based on the Open Document Format standard, which IBM said lowered licensing, administration and maintenance costs.

IBM and Canonical said they had lined up a number of local service providers, including Inkululeko and ZSL Inc., to work with the client software package throughout Africa.