The African computer market is showing, despite the global economic crisis, strong development prospects. It is in this light that IBM has planned to launch a comprehensive follow-up software on the Ubuntu operating system, derived from Linux. The company seeks to compete with Microsoft, but the fiercest competition yet could come from the area of free software. IBM intends to sell this free service for $ 10 per month.
The African market has become the new computer haven. While the prospects of development are low in developed countries, businesses are turning increasingly to Africa. With a projected 2.3% growth this year, its potential market is estimated at $ 22.1 billion (about EUR 15 billion), The Wall Street Journal quoted IDC, Wednesday.
From henceforth, IBM has become Microsoft’s competitor in software sales. The two are targeting users of low-cost Netbook computers sold around 300 dollars (200 euros). The total Netbook production is expected to quadruple in the next few years to attain a sales volume of $ 139 million (94 million euros) in 2013, according to ABI Research, cited by Bloomberg.com. The Netbook software includes, among other things, a browser, a messaging system and office facilities, to help take advantage of a market that has been, until now, almost monopolised by Microsoft.
The package, developed in collaboration with Canonical, a British company, was originally founded in South Africa. It is known for its free operating system Ubuntu, a derivative of Linux. When ready, this product will be offered for download at a subscription rate of $ 10 per month (6.7 euros).
free software competition
Many software distributors and NGOs have tried to promote free software for African companies and governments. But consumers have more often than not, preferred Microsoft Windows, as they claim the latter provides better security. The U.S. company sometimes sells at highly competitive prices to some of its major clients, so as to keep its influence. This new competition from IBM could see the market inundated with even more competitive prices.
But not everyone agrees with this move. A loyal Linux user, who was asked about the future prospects of the market, showed concern: “There is already a free offer, along with others like OpenOffice, so why should we have to pay?” Considering that the monthly subscription fee is already quite expensive.
IBM is most probably seeking to play on the name factor, just like their competitor, to convince users, at the expense of the principles of profit and loss. According to The Wall Street Journal, governments and companies are finding it hard to leave Windows for another software in part because of bug related risks. “It is a misleading trust”, said the loyal user of the free software. “Everyone knows that there are more bugs and viruses in a Windows operating system!”.