The distributor of an inexpensive new office suite, ThinkFree Office, hopes its software – which boasts many of the same features and functionality of Microsoft Office – will cause a stir in the local market. 

The software, developed and distributed by ThinkFree, is already being sold in Japan, the USA, Korea, Indonesia, boasting hundreds and thousands of users, says Imraam Mohamed, MD of local distributor The Friends Cellular Services
Imraan’s company recently landed the exclusive Southern African distribution rights for the product.
“While Microsoft dominates the desktop space with its Microsoft Office software suite – currently boasting almost 99% of the market – we believe we are in a strong position to steal market share locally due to the fact that ThinkFree is just like Microsoft Office, if not better,  but at a fraction of the price.”
ThinkFree software is compatible with Microsoft, saves files in PDF format as well (something Microsoft cannot do), and works various operating system platforms, like Windows XP, Windows Vista,  Mac and the Linux operating systems.
Imraan, who says the company will be appointing a number of regional resellers, is initially focusing on selling ThinkFree via retail outlets – and is already in discussions with some blue chip retailers in South Africa.
“Sure, Mirosoft is a giant, but we believe we are in a position, with ThinkFree, to make inroads. This will be a case of head-to-head sales against Microsoft.
"But ThinkFree, while being more reasonably priced, offers the users the same look and feel – and the same features and functionality if not more. It is also fully compatible with Microsoft and can literally interface with any business desktop software deployed around the world.
“We are initially aiming at introducing our entry-level solution, which is focused on the home environment and small business users – but will later be introducing other versions, which are more aimed at the corporate environment," says Mohamed.
"We will also be bringing out ThinkFree software that is well suited to the mobile market, including PDAs and smart phones.
“We haven’t made a big noise in South Africa yet as we have been in the process of bedding down our distribution agreement and getting plans and processes in place. We will be officially launching towards the end of  June and expect sales to pick up briskly during the next few months.”