IBM and the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry have signed an agreement to promote e-commerce in China, part of which involves translating a huge chunk of IBM's software product line into Chinese.
IBM says it will work with local companies and developers to produce Chinese versions of JavaOS for Business, Lotus Notes, Domino, VisualAge for Java, eSuite, and application components from its San Francisco software development project.
The agreement will help augment local Java programming skills, as well as ignite China's e-commerce software industry, IBM says.
But the initiative could also lead to the creation of a vast pool of low-cost Java programmers, just as India has pools of UNIX programmers who do piecemeal programming work at a fraction of going US market rates, according to market research firm Zona Research.
China has a massive untapped market of potential computer users, and the agreement with CMII represents a huge investment in the future for IBM, Zona said in a statement.
"In the short run, this will be a money sink for IBM, but in the long run, it could turn out to be a highly leverageable investment," Zona said.
Specifically, IBM will work with China's Great Wall Computer Group to localize JavaOS for Business, an operating system designed to run Java applications which IBM co-developed with Sun Microsystems.