IBM and Canonical launch netbook platform

This is exciting news – a combined IBM and Ubuntu based netbook platform designed for on-premise and cloud-based collaboration and aimed at emerging markets such as Africa:

IBM, Canonical and Partners Launch Cloud- and Linux-based Netbook Software in Africa

IBM Client for Smart Work Helps Bridge the Digital Divide for Businesses

ARMONK, N.Y. and JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —
Today IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Canonical are introducing a new, flexible personal computing software package for netbooks and other thin client devices to help businesses in Africa bridge the digital divide by leapfrogging traditional PCs and proprietary software. This is the first cloud- and premise-based Linux netbook software package offered by IBM and Canonical.

Part of IBM’s Smart Work Initiative, the new package targets the rising popularity of low-cost netbooks to make IBM’s industrial-strength software affordable to new, mass audiences in Africa. Businesses that could not afford traditional PCs for all employees can now use any type of device and low-cost software to enable all workers to work smarter anywhere using a variety of devices, regardless of the level of communications infrastructure.

The IBM Client for Smart Work is now available across Africa and is being piloted for other emerging and growth markets worldwide. The solution includes open standards-based email, word processing, spreadsheets, unified communication, social networking and other software for any laptop, netbook, or a variety of mobile devices. It runs on Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux operating system, and provides the option to deliver collaboration through the Web in a cloud service model. This software bundle can also be extended to virtualized workspaces using VERDE from Virtual Bridges, which is available locally through business partners and voice-based collaboration pilots through IBM Research. IBM
estimates that it delivers up to 50 percent savings per seat versus aMicrosoft-based desktop.

“Businesses in emerging markets are looking to gain the freedom and flexibility afforded by open standards,” said Bob Picciano, General Manager, IBM Lotus Software. “The IBM Client for Smart Work builds on the movement toward open
standards and Web-based personal computing by giving people the power to work smarter, regardless of device.”

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Whilst I personally would have loved the solution to have a more innovative and engaging name than “IBM Client for Smart Work“, I think IBM should be applauded for making a foray into building solutions explicitly for the emerging market, for creating a solution that embraces both on-premise and cloud-based computing, and its good to see the links between Lotus and Canonical becoming ever stronger.

For more information, check out Ed Brill’s post and this very detailed summary at Gadget Reviews.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!