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February 5, 2006

IBM ramps up outreach to Russian developers

Following similar moves over the past decade to India and China, IBM Corp is increasing its activities to build the Russian developer community.

By CBR Staff Writer

The company is making available free access to software and tools through a new localized developerWorks portal, backed with training and outreach programs that will hit Moscow, St Petersburg, and many midsize cities.

According to Cathy Mandelstein, IBM director of developer relations, interest is huge. We began conducting briefings last year and saw turnouts as high as 500 to 750 developers at each session, which was very high, she said.

IBM plans to target 65 cities across Russia and work with 400 universities in curriculum development, focused heavily on open source. It already has an innovation center in Moscow that has worked with roughly a hundred partners to port and localize software.

The program is similar to earlier IBM efforts in India back in the late 1990s, and China in 2001. But there are some important differences, said Mandelstein.

The most obvious is the language barrier. Because India is already heavily English speaking, and because there were already active ties with US and European businesses, there was no need to build a localized developer portal there.

She said that the more apt analogy is with China, which also required significant localization.

Excluding PCs (which IBM has divested to Lenovo), IBM earned $3.8bn revenue over the past year in emerging countries such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, representing a 14% jump in constant currency. Comparing growth by country, India led with 55%, followed by Russia at 29%, China at 8%, and Brazil at 7%.

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