IBM will offer the products through its Global Services unit, combining the hardware and software with consulting services aimed at industries in Brazil that IBM believes are poised for growth and need to automate business processes that are currently performed manually. IBM says it will specifically target Brazil's retail, financial, and government sectors.
Observers say that Brazil and other Latin American countries may embrace Linux--and, by extension, IBM--due to its low cost compared with competing products offered by Microsoft or Unix vendors such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. "There's been a visible push by emerging market governments to consider open source," says Technology Business Research analyst Brooks Gray, who notes that government IT initiatives in emerging markets often set the direction for the private sector. Last October, IBM unveiled an agreement with the Brazilian government to jointly develop open-source technology for deployment in the country.
Research firm Gartner says PC sales in Latin America grew 7.7% last year. Within that category, the hottest product was notebooks, sales of which grew 21.4%. IBM is the No. 3 PC provider in Latin America, according to Gartner, trailing market leader Hewlett-Packard and Dell. In its most recent quarterly report, IBM identified Brazil as its hottest growth market in the Americas.