Workplace's Green Fields of Asia
IBM announces that Workplace's release date is firming up for early 2006 (Martin Lamonica | CNet). Workplace features OpenDocument and MS Office file formats and will deliver office suite functionality to the browser. It is one of the prominent examples -- from Big Blue itself -- of applications drifting from the FAT client desktop into the data center; I've been thinking about other examples in this trend, lately:
Arthur's point is not lost on my US clients who are migrating their desktop applications to get open standards rolling. They are looking at the Asian countries, where low PC penetration experience provides a green field, making introduction of open standards and Open Source & Free Software measurably easier than in the US and Europe, where attachments to legacy formats and habits established over the last 15 years make change more difficult. The Westerners will be examining closely the economics and experiences of Asian governents and organizations, relishing their uniform deployments if not salivating at the IT-Nirvana of having the opportunity to make a clean start.
Arthur Fontaine, the marketing manager for Workplace Managed Client, believes IBM's support for industry standards and the server-centric design of Workplace will appeal to customers in developing countries, particularly governments.
"The governments of India, China and other emerging markets are very interested in this," Fontaine said. "They don't have the legacy of having everything saved in Microsoft Office to transition from...This is an opportunity to start out right."
Workplace will play an important role in Asia's technological leap ahead on the desktop precisely because things are taking place...not on the desktop. This will reinforce the early action back in the Western Hemisphere just like enterprise adoptions have a way of influencing the kinds of systems employees are inclined to purchase for home use.