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Linux for $12.50 a Week

Most households in the world have yet to own their first PC, because it's simply been too expensive. Coming up with $1,000 or more for a PC (current PC average is $700) plus a monitor and an office suite is simply out of reach for many people, especially in emerging markets. What if a buyer could pay $12.50 a week? And for that small weekly payment, they would receive a powerful new PC with a monitor and speakers, plus all the software to do basic computing including a complete office suite? Well that's exactly what's happening in Mexico, and it is having impressive early success, with Linux making it possible.

Today, we're kicking off a partnership with Elektra to bring computers to all of Mexico. Elektra has over 850 stores throughout Latin America, specializing in electronics. They recognize that using Linux could open the door to much more affordable PC offerings and new profitable business for them. Working with Elektra, we've tailored our Spanish version for their unique needs. Since many of their customers will be first-time PC owners, we've included a multimedia tutorial in Spanish, that walks them through computing basics. We also customized the systems to work well with Elektra's low-cost dialup Internet services. Finally, we included an office suite so users could perform advanced computer operations. The finished product is an easy-to-use, Mexico-tailored computer system for about $600 US.

Perhaps most innovative, is the financial flexibility that Elektra offers on these computer systems to make them practical for many Mexican families who have previously been unable to afford computers. With an adjusted per capita gross income of about $800 a month, coming up with $600 is a large sum for Mexico's middle class. So Elektra offers weekly payments of roughly $12.50 as an alternate payment option. At those prices, desktop computing becomes a reality for a large percentage of the population that was previously priced out of the market.


During our pre-launch period Elektra has shipped more than 25,000 computers, and we expect that number to grow substantially with this official release and stocking in all their stores. To help support this influx of new Linux users, we're kicking off our community support site at Here users can find store locations, get immediate help from the community, chat with other Linux users and help encourage the growth of Linux in Mexico.

I believe that this is just the start of large deployments of Linux-based computers in Latin America. I'm also confident that Elektra is blazing a trail that other retailers in emerging markets will adopt to bring affordable computers to their own countrymen as well. Today there are about 500 million computer users online, how long before we're at a billion?

-- Michael

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