IBM Partners To Offer $190 Cloud-Connected Netbook For Emerging Markets

IBM Partners To Offer $190 Cloud-Connected Netbook For Emerging MarketsIBM, Canonical and Simmtronics will offer emerigng markets a fully loaded, cloud-connected Netbook for $190. It’s a clear example of how a cloud-based approach fits with the emerging Netbook market and its importance in the global marketplace as a channel for enterprise collaboration technologies.

The Simmtronics Simmbook will initially be available in South Africa and emerging markets. In addition to African countries, the Simmbook will also be available in India, Thailand and Vietnam.

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The Simmbook will come preloaded with IBM Client for Smart Work, which includes IBM software like Lotus Symphony and access to IBM LotusLive cloud collaboration services. The Simmbook will run Ubuntu from Canonical as its operating system.

The Simmbook is one of the first Netbook to provide direct access to the cloud by offering a package of online collaboration tools. The OS is not cloud-based but LotusLive is a robust enough application suite to give customers a cloud environment that should prove useful and less expensive than the costs of a Windows-based operating system.

Simmbook launched in India at the beginning of the year. Simmtronics is an electronics company with a 20-year history developing motherboards, memory modules and graphic cards. Leadership By Numbers explains how Simmtronics competes at such a low price point:

“The Simmbook is where they have put all the pieces together, to enter the laptop market with a low-cost netbook….Managing Director, Indrajit Sabharwal of Simmtronics pointed out that “because the motherboard and memory is 25% of overall cost," Simmtronics has a competitive pricing edge. By removing the expense of a Microsoft operating system, and relying on Ubuntu (Windows XP is an option, at an increased expense), Simmtronics has created a mobile computing device with 1 G of RAM, Intel Atom processor and a 160 HD that will be selling in the neighborhood of $250 US. “

Simmbook has another edge to it. It’s OS is open-source. The IBM software is built on open standards.

Earlier this week we discussed LotusLive and its strong growth. We got a little grief from our commenters. So, how do you view this? At this point it seems plausible that Google Apps and Lotus Live will compete to some degree in the Netbook market channel.

Part of the strategy here is to convince IT managers in emerging markets that the Netbook is a legitimate alternative to the PC, especially when it comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu and productivity applications with no custom work required.

Our biggest question concerns the availability of broadband to take advantage of cloud-based collaboration services. A Netbook is viable due its low cost and capabilities compared to a PC. Reliable broadband? That seems to be a challenge well out of the control of IBM and its partners.

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