IBM, Canonical, Simmtronics Offer Cheap Netbooks For Emerging Markets

The lightweight computers run on Ubuntu and come pre-loaded with IBM's office productivity suites built on OpenOffice.org code.

IBM, Canonical and Simmtronics are using the lower price point of open source to help businesses in emerging markets get the technology they need to compete.IBM Client for Smart Work, which was developed with Canonical and Red Hat and includes IBM Lotus Symphony, which was built on the OpenOffice.org source code.Ubuntu linux. Here's a video from Ubuntu (and Canonical) founder Mark Shuttleworth about the program:

Simmtronics' Simmbook netbook will be available for the equivalent of U.S. $190, first in South Africa, then other emerging markets in Africa, India, Thailand and Vietnam. The computer comes pre-loaded with

The netbook's OS is

"For me, it's very important to see computing changing the lives of people in Africa," Shuttleworth says in the video. "We have a wealth of talent in the continent that remains unexpressed, and in the 21st century, the way to express that is going to be digitally."

He goes on to say that he sees getting low-cost computers into the business world there is a first step toward getting them into the schools and into everyday life.

Netbooks were a viable option not just because they're cheaper than their desktop cousins, said Indrajit Sabharwal, Founder and Managing Director, Simmtronics Semiconductors Limited. Though the light, portable computers don't have as much processing power as even a laptop, they're quite capable of running most programs essential in business - e-mail, Web access, instant messaging, spreadsheets and productivity suites. The Simmbooks also will have access to IBM's LotusLive cloud services.

The idea here is that if given the opportunity to obtain the tools to succeed, thought leaders in these emerging markets will be able to help make their nations competitive on the world marketplace.

Keep an eye out for them.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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